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Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Ontario, Canada
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"Epigram - Reverie"

Score: 7/10

Good music is good music; there are no two ways about it. But when it comes to post-rock, some people feel that this is not enough, and who can blame them? The number of bands playing post-rock is increasing by the second, and filtering through them to find something different - at least a compromise between clichés and originality - is getting all the more frustrating. Thankfully, these bands still exist, and so far this year a number of excellent post-rock albums have emerged to make up for last year’s shortage of quality releases, ranging from the orchestral to the guitar-driven to the blended.

Epigram falls into the second category, a difficult place for any band. The comparisons to Explosions in the Sky are bound to arise at any moment, and many listeners’ attention will drift towards which band Epigram sounds like rather than how good their music is. To be honest, Epigram do sound like EitS at points, but doesn’t every instrumental guitar band sound like them to some people? Fortunately, Epigram is no clone. These songs aren’t all about the high/low dynamic, and Epigram is definitely capable of making deeply engaging, beautiful music.

The key to the band's success is a high level of musicianship. Epigram's melodies are unique and contain lots of emotion. Second track “RIOT” is a clear example. The track starts with guitar arpeggios and a slide guitar, then a 3/4 beat enters. The evolution continues with beautifully layered guitars and a smart bass line, but then it halts before the halfway point to begin the buildup. At this point, we are introduced to the hook, a memorable, attention-grabbing guitar melody. This moment of clarity amidst the chaos brings back memories of Joy Wants Eternity’s “Uriel” and that strong feeling of nostalgia-induced happiness. This song has that ending that makes one want to keep listening to it over and over again just to achieve that same high, and it works every single time.

The second highlight of the album is former TSB track of the week “Unexpected Gift, Unexpected Time”, which skips an intro altogether and gets straight down to business. Epigram's drummer is a key asset, whose wild activity veers away from the lazy drumming of many post-rock bands. He gives a sensational performance here, as well as throughout the album. He holds the sound together by avoiding meaningless repetition, always changing the beats in the best manner possible to get the best possible outcome of the instruments that surround him.

The rest of the album is packed with subtle pieces that move with their own train of thought without adhering to a certain formula. It may sound familiar to some, as the guitar sounds and heavy reverb on display here are far from groundbreaking. But that's not important, except maybe to post-rock curmudgeons. Reverie is more a nod to good musicianship and an ode to good songwriting. This sophomore effort is also a solid step forward, a result of additional time spent together and the incorporation of a few new instruments. Those who like good old classic post-rock will love this album.

-Mohammed Ashraf

- The Silent Ballet

"Epigram - Anything That Comes to Mind"

Score 6.5/10
Anything that Comes to Mind is the debut release of the foursome Epigram, a band name partially leaning toward a word that is thrown around quite often when it comes to describing - or reviewing - music, epic. But a stroll on the internet learns us that an epigram is a short statement that makes an interesting, frequently profound, observation about life or the world. Rather than cutting and pasting some hip post-rock-ish words together and form another band name like there are already thirteen in a dozen, this Toronto outfit chose for a name that somewhat stands out in the crowd. Once you've heard it twice I highly doubt that you'd forget the band name, rather essential if you want people to drop your name. Obviously in order to be a band, more is needed, however. The band's line-up consists out of the classic drummer, bassist and two guitar players, again nothing noticeable except maybe that they've had a guest appearance by Julie Lee on violin for the recording. So let's find out what makes this 45 minute debut stand out... whilst trying to avoid the word epic for obvious reasons.

The opening track "The Beginning of Anything" is not a kick-starter but a smooth swelling of Epigram's signature sounds - think of it as the slumbering state one might experience on lazy Sunday. A state of laziness you will gladly drag along throughout a day with nothing planned, nowhere to be, where anything goes as long as it doesn't endanger the windfall of blissful nothingness. Clouds of overhead drums, rays of sliding guitars, cobblestone baselines and minimal string pickings form the key ingredients of the seven instrumental tracks on Anything that Comes to Mind. They are basic, yet broadly applicable components when used in a playful, cascading manner as Epigram does. There are no dark, vigorous passages threatening to rain on the parade, only captivating variations in the recipe that conform with the thirteen-in-a-dozen song structures as they go around in the post-rock scene.

If it where another band or album, I might frown upon these structures but these make Anything that Comes to Mind all that more digestible. At first listen you will feel where the contrasts of resting and climaxing pieces are to be found, ideal to entice from the start. "Always an Uncomfortable Silence" is the perfect example of these contrasts, warm ambience in the back and delightful minimal guitars picking away on the swelling bass and drums until they suddenly explode in a climax of post-rock surging waves. The dauntless slide guitar riding the heights of the album do have a sagacious impact on the overall sound, but once acclimatized to its omnipresence in the tidal waves of fluid post-rock, it all makes sense.

On my first listen of the album I feared that there wasn't much depth to be found in the release, but the truth is that each time I get to the closing tracks "Nostradamus" and "This is Not Where We Are Supposed to Be", I get this gut feeling this band has more up there sleeve then they are showing on Anything that Comes to Mind. Perhaps it's wishful thinking that this band will rise above itself with their follow up, but consider this. Both the title of the album and its opening track ("The Beginning of Anything") are always pointing in a direction yet leave plenty of room for (re-)interpretation. The two closing tracks especially are referring more to what "can be" than "what is." The additional violin on the closing track may be just one additional instrument, but it is a massive added value to the composition, one that begs for more. I'm not willing to make any comparisons with established bands, but what if these titles have a deeper meaning to them?

Considering that this band was formed in the spring of 2007 and had an full length album ready to ship about 18 months later, that they've already shared the stage withCaspian, Nadja, and other names that will most likely ring a bell, I'm willing to believe that this band has a bright future ahead, if they're able to get past the biggest obstacle a band can encounter - the follow up album.

-Jurgen Verhasselt - The Silent Ballet

"Son/Lumiere 2 at The Gladstone Hotel"

Last night was the second experimental sound and light experience of son/lumiere in the Gladstone Hotel's Ballroom. It started at 8:30pm sharp and before the first band, Epigram had finished their set the place was at capacity.

The music was more eclectic than the last event, opening with new comers to the experimental music scene Epigram, whose sound is in the vein of Explosions in the Sky and filled the Ballroom with a wall of instrumental post-rock that held the crowd spell bound.

They were followed by the folky, prog-rock sound of Ragni and when I turned to look out at the audience couples were cuddling and sitting on the floor.

Holoscene recharged the crowd with their ebb and flow of ambient textures and raging volumes. Unfortunately the witching hour of Thursday was upon the crowd and people who had to get up this morning started to filter out just before the doom-metal duo Nadja hit the stage. However a crowd held out until the bitter end for the very experimental, Dead Can Dance esq. Still Coiled.

Four hours can be a bit much on a weekday night, but the cats from holoscene who host son/lumiere know what they're doing and have added the magical touch of Theo Buchinskas whose live visual projections erase the time and completes the total sensory experience.

I would be remiss to not mention that between bands animated shorts by Nick Fox-Grieg were played and I highly recommend you check out his hilarious Foxhole Manifesto.

-Richelle Forsey
- Blog TO


Reverie (2010)

1. I'm Sorry, I'm Lost
2. R.I.O.T.
3. Waiting to Wake Up
4. The Narrator (Interlude 1)
5. The Strangers We Are Becoming
6. Unexpected Gift, Unexpected Time
7. The Spectator (Interlude 2)
8. Fragments of What Was Said
9. Never Was and Never Will Be

Anything That Comes to Mind (2008)

1. The Beginning of Anything
2. Fear of Heights
3. Reunion
4. What's Mine Is Yours
5. Always an Uncomfortable Silence
6. Nostradamus
7. This Is Not Where We Are Supposed to Be



The follow-up to 2008's "Anything That Comes to Mind" is scheduled for release on CD and vinyl December 7th, 2010. The new album, "Reverie", was recorded by James Anderson at 6 Nassau in Toronto and features some different instrumentation than their debut. While "Anything That Comes to Mind" was full of dynamic instrumental songs mainly based around guitar, bass and drums (with the addition of violin on select tracks), the new recordings expand on the band's sound to include additional instruments such as piano, organ, accordion, glockenspiel, and melodica. Though "Reverie" does share a lot of the qualities of their debut, with songs varying from ambient soundscapes (bringing to mind Stars of the Lid or Sigur Ros) to a distorted wall of sound (recalling My Bloody Valentine or Mogwai), often in the course of one song.

Although much of the past year was spent writing, re-writing and recording new material, Epigram was able to premiere a lot of these new songs at the Pitter Patter Festival in 2009 and 2010, playing both the Drake Hotel and the Horseshoe Tavern, at the 2009 NXNE Festival sharing a bill with No Age, as well as supporting Junius and Romance of Young Tigers in Toronto on their North American tours. The band is now planning a number of shows after the release of "Reverie" (including an album release show at the El Mocambo on December 10th) in Ontario and Quebec to support the new album.

Matt Barr
Brad Deschamps
Andrew Eyles
Jamie Jones