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CD Feature/ Laura: "Yes Maybe No"

img  Tobias
To the uninitiated, the title of this record may suggest indicision or tedious consensus-building as a point of departure. This could lead to unfortunate misunderstandings. Yes, Laura are a collective and as such, their process of conceptualising their albums and of moulding musical material into precise and poignant pieces is a group effort. And no, as Drummer Dave Gagliardi has pointed out before, “sitting down with pen and paper over drinks” has not been stricken from their list of internal rituals aimed at establishing coherence from recorded jam sessions and delirous improvisations. Maybe, then, the record’s name should not be understood as finding the least controversial way out, but rather as a razosharp statement of intent which leaves no option unconsidered.

A hybrid of many different styles, Post Rock has always found it hard defining itself. Was it an angry 21st century pendant to Jazz, a jazzy, complex derrivative of Rock, a logical continuation of the song format into unexplored instrumental waters or merely a band playing without a singer? As experience has shown, the main point of attraction was not so much returning to the roots and the essence of Drums, Guitars and Bass, but rather the excitement of watching a seemingly decapitated ensemble finding new and appealing ways of interacting. After the gradual disappearance of the genre from the medial spotlight, a new generation of bands has retreated from occasionally overanalytical concepts and begun discovering melody and unchanneled energy as their main compositional building blocks. Laura is one of them.

After two gloriously received full-lengths, “Yes Maybe No” represents an important step forwards for the group in two regards. First of all, it is the first release outside of their native Australia and their second home of Japan, where Laura have been welcomed by a young and euphoric public searching for both subtely experimental and stirringly emotional sounds. Secondly, it sees the sixpiece eschew the album format in favour of a concise EP commission, forcing them to unfold their narrative faster and with even more urge. Concentrated story-telling prevails for most part, while including at least one epic gesture seemed mandatory. As a result, the release features Pop-format tunes alongside miniaturised interludes and a long and winding cinematic closing track.

Especially on the first five pieces, Laura establish a powerful vortex of quivering Riffs, pulsating Drum action, brittly broken chords and anthemic, smeared-out melodic overtone-fields. Charging between suspenseful passages of reserve, in which the Guitars’ intertwined motives create lyrical autumnal moods and controlled outbursts of sheer and untamed force, “Yes Maybe No” moves forward in fluent staccato motion, like a slide projector firing new images every nanosecond. Unlike some of their collegues, whose flirt with Metal awards their harsher moments a both cheesy and crassly dark personality, Laura always aim straight for the heart, never allowing cropped-up frustration to stand in the way of beauty and never abusing their quest for beauty as an excuse for failing to rock.

Stretched-out “Another One for the Humans” certainly exemplifies this philosophy perfectly. A plaintive and demure ballad in essence, it opens with drooping Guitar lines and a bitter Cello theme and seems all but over at the six-minute mark, when its fire is quenched by soft percussive brushes. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, however, the song returns more forceful and determined than ever, pounding the same chords for minutes on end and reaching a point of consolation in fuzz, frenzy and feedback – as well the last return and of the opening Guitar motive in the final seconds, before it dies down like a mournful shooting star.

It is not so much these moments of obvious passion which turn the EP into a noteable effort, however, but the dark and sweeping pull exorcised by its overall momentum. Especially soft drone clouds like “Z.I.B 1” or the oriental organ haze “Z.I.B. 2” are ephemeral in a spellbinding way, captivating you seductively instead of aggressively clamouring for your attention. As a consequence, the record floats by like a ghost ship in the distance, while shooting intensely luminous flares into a blackened midnight sky, confounding your senses and forcing you to take a decision: Yes? Maybe? No? These questions suddenly seem anything but indecisive.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Laura
Homepage: Laura at MySpace
Homepage: Elevation Recordings

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