The Declaration – decdiscs – April 12, 2007
By John Ruscher
Graboids have come a long way since they first began jamming in high school at the Music Resource Center, and patience has been the key to their progression. Just as their songs gradually expand and fill out their sonic territory, the band has let itself develop naturally. After solidifying a line up, Graboids emerged from the MRC and began playing shows at the underground hotspot Tokyo Rose. After a while, the Rose closed down and members of the Graboids dispersed to various parts of the globe. But their patience held out, and in 2005 they reconvened in Charlottesville to pick up where they left off. This February they released their debut full-length, Infinite Delay, on Stickfigure Records.
Though they are happy to obscure their guitar sounds into ethereal, spaced-out arcs, Graboids do not try to distort or hide their methodology. The titles for Infinite Delay and their previous EP Pure Noise directly point at the band’s compositional approach. They love delay pedals and noise. And Graboids are no novices when it comes to orchestration by stomp-box and chaotic reverberations. The countless hours of experimentation and practice that began back in the MRC culminate in carefully crafted epics on Infinite Delay.
It’s logical to refer to instrumental bands like Mogwai and Explosions in the Sky when talking about Graboids, as their music is in the same vein. One of the biggest similarities exists between Infinite Delay and Mogwai’s self-titled 1999 EP. The two releases have kindred albums covers consisting of dark, out-of-focus industrial scenery, and both present a sound that is vast but not overwhelming.
This quality of manageable-yet-epic songs makes Infinite Delay a durable album. It succeeds in balancing between the horizontal and vertical directions of their music. In the most quiet and serene moments, Graboids spread out into a wide, vaporous vista. During the peaks, however, they pull the sound closer together for a compact and consummate ascension.
Though carefully balanced and composed, the album has its regrettable moments. “Top of the Network,” a hip hop tune with rhymes by UK artist Jeremiah, easily causes winces with lines like “I’m holding hip hop heads as hostages / frying sausages in a pan full of bacon / I’m a swine in the lines that I’m fakin.” Luckily, the poor moments of the album are all contained within this song. It’s as if the band put the track on the album just to provide a point of contrast for their stellar instrumental achievements.
Where “Top of the Network” falls flat, the rest of the tunes soar brilliantly. Eleven-minute “Looming on the Horizon/Bovine Bliss” slowly fluctuates to a static-filled climax before disintegrating beautifully. “Cowboy Killer” swirls like a tornado and brings the album to a close with gritty and sparkling feedback.
If the past is any indicator, Graboids will not disappear anytime soon. Infinite Delay is a promising step, and a national tour this summer will expose many more to their stormy live show. Pick the record up now from Plan 9, Sidetracks, or stickfiguredistro.com.
John Ruscher is a fourth year English major who is still trying to understand how an infinite delay works.