Sun Nov 9


From the Neurot Newsletter:

"Neurosis' longtime friend and brother (and onetime roadie) was listening to the Grails record just released on NR. This friend was just having a quiet evening at home, drinking one or two bottles of beer, and was so overcome by the emotional intensity of Grails' music that he was inspired to--and did, indeed--smash his television set to pieces. In an act of extreme devotion to the musical form, our friend has no plans to replace his television. He continues to be a big fan of Grails."

You could do worse than to have a guy break his TV over your music. And, while the past is strewn with people murdered over lyrics, Grails don't even need words to send a dude into destruct mode. Said man (who, it must be pointed out, being a Neurosis fan, most certainly smashed the television without any semblance of irony) got his passion from a band whose primary melodic instrument is the violin. Paganini has got to be stoked.

The Portland-based instrumental five-piece, formerly known as Laurel Canyon, just released their first album on Neurosis' respected Neurot Recordings, and they do indeed deal in emotional intensity, unleashing a voracious ebb and flow of violin, guitars, a gaping chasm of drums, well composed. It's appropriate that, in a time where visceral response to music is the dominant commodified art form, a band whose emotional effect is so powerful doesn't have any lyrics. Grails knows periphery, subtleties, the indefinable heaviness of being. Says guitarist Alex Hall, "It's all pretty abstract, unavoidably, I guess. Playing instrumental music, I think it would be foolish for us to try to be specific. You know when you listen to a song and it just affects you to the point that your insides ache? I think that's a very beautiful thing."

Speaking of aching beauty, when Jeez's violin weeps amid a great refrain of Grails' guitars, you know what they meant when they named their album The Burden of Hope. But Hall says they got the title from a documentary about Werner Herzog--"called Burden of Dreams, about the making of Fitzcarraldo. Both films are essentially concerned with human will and obsession clashing harshly with reality--pretty weighty themes, but ones that I'd like to think are universal."