Zomes is the first solo album from Asa Osborne, guitarist of the almighty Lungfish and Higgs/Osborne side project Pupils. Or, as Dischord puts it (read between the lines a little):
Well, how much you might like this is probably predicated on whether you like Lungfish or not, and how much and for how long you've liked them. Talking Songs for Walking is likely one of my top ten Dischord albums of all time, and of course it represents just one of a long string of great Lungfish records. Because I got into the band through that album - only slightly more than a few years ago - rather than through their contemporaneous work, I've taken to methodically absorbing their albums, year by year.
For the past year to six months, I was arrested at Sound in Time and Indivisible; but jumped ahead to embrace Pupils and now, it seems, Zomes. Sound in Time was a truly ear-shattering record, a continuing echo of the over-saturated, monumental post-hardcore of Talking Songs; Indivisible almost the opposite, quiet and reflective and more in the vein of Pass and Stow. Neither of those two records gave me any particular reason to stop collecting Lungfish albums (either through eMusic or blogs) other than, perhaps, a sense of satisfactory completeness. Repetition is very much part of the Lungfish canon: as in the songs, so with albums; although there is variation as described above, and it is not without an overall sense of progression.
The Pupils album stripped the Lungfish sound down to an almost folksy quality, combining Daniel Higgs's eccentricity and esotericism with Asa Osborne's likewise, and his melodic contribution in feel and atmosphere. Zomes, which Insound describes as "full of beautiful Seesselberg-sized chunks of loop-like melodies that effervesce while Osborne brings them to life" continues this, adding also "a cinematic quality to the material here that recalls 'library music,' East German Indianerfilmen soundtracks, and even Blues Control at their most humid". Zomes is denser than Pupils, perhaps obviously so because of the lack of vocals, but the concentration on guitar also produces a sound which is richer in many more unconventional ways.
Zomes also fits in with other post-rock/post-hardcore groups that I've been listening to this year - primarily Human Bell and Arboroteum, which mirror a lot of the folksy/noise elements of Pupils and the absorbing rhythms of Lungfish, but also Grails, which incorporates the atavistic qualities of 60s musical culture into their bombastic, hyper-cultural rock in a similar way to the drone-filled echoes which bleed into this.
A lot of my favourite albums of the year are coming down to face-offs between pairs of outstanding examples from broad or not so broad categories: hence punk rock comes down to ...Who Calls So Loud versus Shooting At Unarmed Men (two utterly different styles of 'punk', admittedly), Irish rock between Fight Like Apes and Ham Sandwich, post-rock between Grails and (possibly) Mogwai - and now, instrumental, genre-, body- and mind-encompassing Lungfish-based post-hardcore between Human Bell and Zomes.
Of course, if I've learnt anything (probably incorrectly) from a Lungfish record it's that non-dualism is usually a good thing, so why does there have to be only one winner?
Zomes - s/t on eMusic
[Apologies for the relative - but largely unnecessary - verbosity of this post, it's the first lengthy thing I've written since starting a new year of college (two weeks ago) and having in the meantime absorbed presumably thousands of words of academic literature in the meantime, without any obvious outlet like this - I just heard this album from yesterday, and wanted to talk about it. These are the words that came out.]