Hay música que es como un abrazo bajo los últimos rayos de sol. Al atardecer, justo antes de que las sombras enturbien la ternura. Así es el segundo trabajo de Makaras Pen: una caricia que envuelve y protege de la aridez, fría o abrasadora, de emociones que se escapan hacia el horizonte. Un despliegue de melodías luminosas, guitarras infinitas, belleza frágil y una melancolía cercada por la sonrisa de quienes saben que entre la tristeza yacen las semillas de una felicidad futura y atemporal. “A petal among bricks” (2011) es un torrente de sensaciones positivas, expuestas con delicadeza y contenidas entre murallas de guitarras flotantes que evitan su dispersión en limbos excesivamente inestables. La voz de Emma Willis, entre la dulzura y la inocencia, entona con naturalidad y cierto desparpajo melodías destinadas a acompañar múltiples ocasos, solitarios o enamorados, conmovedores y, sobre todo, radiantes. El soberbio trabajo de Dough White con las guitarras, superponiendo múltiples capas y efectos, desde los más cristalinos a los más distorsionados, deshace la herencia shoegaze para reconfigurarse en un indi-pop dinámico y ensoñador, enérgico y diáfano. “Sixfouronezero” abre este singular trabajo de manera firme y directa, con una frescura tan espontánea como sencilla. Los cambios de ritmo de “Ilusions”, “Life in a new light” y “Heat” conectan directamente con su álbum de debut, "Makaras Pen" (2010). Y a pesar de los aires más oscuros y crepusculares de “Control” o “Keep a good thing going” las sensaciones más destacadas de “A petal among bricks” son primaverales y azucaradas, como ejemplifica a la perfección esa explosión de color y armonías que es “Wishful thinking” o la maravillosa candidez de “November”. Al igual que en su anterior trabajo, un tema instrumental, “Opus 7”, cierra, esta vez con ambientes algo más duros e intensos, este delicado y hermoso álbum. Romanticismo desposeído o, simplemente, belleza desinhibida.
This project got their start just a few years ago from the remains of another Projekt band known as Tearwave. The band is formed by the talented members of founder Doug White (guitars, songwriting), Emma Willis (vocals, lyrics), Jon Nemi (guitars), Val Hill (bass) and Dennis Caswell (drums). Together they form an excellent style that's a mix of shoegaze, ethereal and indie rock, with emphasis on the grinding guitars and driving rhythms while Emma's soft vocals soften the harsh edges providing an excellent balance to the music.
After just a short history in the career of this band, they're well on their way to becoming a well-known and solid staple within their mix of genres. They kicked it off in style with their self-titled debut album with excellent new classics. Many people may be familiar with this band from their introduction on Projekt's sampler Under The Weight of Light released in early 2010. The track "Currents" is an excellent introduction to their driving, lush, guitar-laiden sound that was an instant classic and favorite from the time I first heard it. Late 2011 brought about the excellent self-released sophomore album building on what they started just a little over a year before. With the great start in these two albums we hope for many more for years to come.
A Petal Among Bricks - Review
Without too long of a wait, we have the sophomore album from this group of shoegaze rockers. This album is self-released by the band and comes packaged in a simple jewel case and insert without much more than a track list and list of band members. I suppose this doesn't make too much of a difference in today's age of digital music downloads, but for those of us that enjoy the physical thing, it's a very simple package. The disc comes with eleven powerful tracks much like the previous album.
After an excellent debut, it's hard to know where a band will go next, it's hard to follow their debut with the variety and power in that album, but I think the band does a good job here building on their solid base of distorted layer upon layer of guitar-driven shoegazer music with a definite indie rock edge. "SixFourOneZero" kicks it off and with this piece we're immediately sucked in by Emma's sweet vocals and pounding drums while at first some simple minimalistic guitar and bass move things along, in between each verse and across the chorus the driving, layered, shimmering guitars kick in for a powerful highlight. The album progresses along in this way across one captivating piece after another leaving the listener breathless and enthralled in the midst of it all.
The album is fairly homogenous, so it's hard to pick out any definite favorites that really stand out. Each piece contributes something to the overall grace and beauty to the album. Pieces like "Wishful Thinking" really pour on the emotion with Emma's innocent, pleading vocals over the top of the various layers of grinding and soaring guitar. Later "Life in a New Light" brings on the driving indie rock style with a moving beat and the various cascading guitars, forming a wall of captivating sound, punctuated and accented by crashing percussion and the incredible guitar-work, creating a veritable symphony of guitar-driven sound. This break-neck speed and intensity carries on across several pieces like "Heart" with the slightly overbearing cymbals crashing. We get a nice little respite with "Control" featuring a lot more prominent bass guitar and drums, creating a bit more of a darker, somewhat gothic style. The album moves along in similar fashion and comes to a close much like their previous album with an instrumental finale named "Opus 7". This powerful piece adds the final exclamation point to the album and brings it to a close nicely.
Overall another excellent work from this band, they've focused a little more on the rock sound and I definitely missed not having a single down-tempo ethereal piece, but I don't pretend to dictate to the band how to create their music, but with this style it's always nice to have something along those lines. It's definitely worth picking up and enjoying.
Being a music writer has its ups and downs. You get so many messages about cool people doing interesting things, but you never have time to give all of them an in-depth look. Sometimes it's hard to see the trees for the forest and sometimes it's the other way around.
But when we at RUST came across Makaras Pen's album A Petal Among Bricks they stood out from the crowd with a really solid sound, and they immediately got our attention. Born of the ashes of Tearwave, frontman Doug White does not try to hide the lineage, he embraces it saying that the hope of Makaras Pen is to take the Tearwave sound to a new level. And next-level is what this band is all about. Makaras pen is really an aggressive indie rock band with a shoegaze vibe and a seemingly limitless supply of electricity.
What really makes Makaras Pen special is the overall completeness of their sound and their unity as a band. With Val Hill on bass and Jon Nemi on guitar A Petal Among Bricks is a tonal assault of smooth rock vibes with passionate performances of original compositions. This is a project of like-minded friends. Vocalist Emma Willis leads with a 'just right produced' vocal presence, and a big mention is in order for Dennis Caswell who keeps the time with a signature percussion style. Makaras Pen is a team effort for sure, but we really have to give it up to Dennis whose big crashes and subtle high beats frame and drive the tracks. This is a band made up of individual rock stars, all pulling together to take their music into new spaces at incredible velocities.
Makaras Pen is definitely a band to watch right now. They're fresh, they've got a crossover sound that does not box them into any one description and there's a wholeness to this album that can only be the result of a unified performance and production effort. You can really see them blowing up. There are 7 listenable tracks on their website, 11 on the A Petal Among Bricks cd and every one is a winner. This is a band to check out right now for sure. These smooth criminals just stole the top spot on my "hot list."