State of the Revolution Address

Posted: August 28, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Announcement
Tags: ,

On the 50th anniversary of the famed Martin Luther King, Jr. “I Have a Dream,” speech, it seems like now would be as appropriate a time as ever to post this.

It has been about two and a half months since anything at all has been posted to ITR?. Firstly, I’d like to apologize for that. We understand that you come to this site for thoughtful, critical analysis as well as to discover new music, and if a horse has ever been fallen from, it has been we who are still caught in the stirrup. I assure you all that we at ITR? have most certainly not lost our passion for music, critical thought, or our audience. We are as passionate as ever about all of you; you have my word on that.

Now, as much as I would like this to be an announcement that we will be resuming business as usual (when business was good, that is), I regret to say that that is unfortunately not why I post this morning. However, I feel that we owe to you some explanation. Starting from the beginning of the year, B and I have gone through a series of fortunes and misfortunes that, while often truly wonderful in the case of the former, has been very demanding on our resources, particularly time and money, making it virtually impossible to maintain the site, or a handful of our other hobbies, for that matter.

Now for some accountability. At some point in ITR? history predating my arrival, a Kickstarter campaign was successfully held to raise funds for the redesign of the site, and of course, there were some incentives involved. Firstly, I want you all to know we did not rob you. The money raised did not just go into our pockets. Some of it has been used already for the project. In fact, the new site has been coded. Unfortunately, WordPress cannot handle the code, so we will need to migrate to a new host. This will be an ongoing expense that neither B nor I can currently finance. We also have no interest in asking for any more of your money, nor do we intend to place any advertisement on our site. Once we have the means to do so, we will roll out the new site, wherever it may be, and the incentives will be distributed.

As I post this, I realize that I very well may be eating my words in the future, as my likely inability to deliver in a timely fashion will veil my words as disingenuous. Regardless, we are in debt to you all in more ways that one, and we owe it to you to give you some idea of where we stand. What I can tell you is that once we get our affairs in order, we have some pretty big things planned.

I thank you all for your continued support.

Time Columns will be releasing their second music video sometime within the next week. The track featured in the video will be “Luma,” following both in track number and in video production to “Produce Communicate Transport Destroy.” To give us a taste of what is to come, they have released a teaser trailer.

If you haven’t checked out their last video, you can do so here. If you haven’t checked out Time Columns, what are you doing with yourself?


| Luma Teaser | PCTD Video | Bandcamp | Facebook |


Into the arms of infinity

I’ve been dreaming of this moment for a long, long time. 3 years, in fact. 3 years, an demo and a name change later, I’m proud to bring you the Is This Revolutionary? review of Signals to Vega’s debut album, Into The Arms of Infinity. Anyone who’s been following this blog knows my infatuation with this band. From the moment “Faster, My Friend… The Old World Is Behind You” began, I was head over heels. I’ve gotten to know David, Ricky, Joe and Zac since 2010, and they are as fantastic musicians as they are people. Their music has gotten me through the darkest of times, and I only hope you can take away from it what I can.

The album starts, and you are immediately brought into the fold of what Signals to Vega is all about: big volume & big emotion; “Redshift” grabs onto your heartstrings and never lets go. What I love about this song, which is reflective of the entire album, is the incredibly full song structure due to the combination of the guitar parts. Their wall of sound is so warm and inviting, and pairing that with such a beautiful second guitar creates an atmosphere that is unlike any other. Each moment you’re listening, whether you’re alone in your car or in a crowded subway station, your soul fuses with the sound and you become one with the music. If any stronger evidence is needed, 3:48 of “Oh, Rhien” is the strongest example of how well they pull it off. It may seem simple, but the way they build up, slow it down, and then resume without any loss of momentum takes a whole lot of artistic skill and creativity. The hidden gem is the drums, which are overlooked because of the show-stealing guitars. If you take a good listen, you’ll realize how talented of a musician that man is, and how he really provides the grounding that allows the entire band to work.

Rating: I almost feel this section is unnecessary. I have seen this band grow and develop over the past three years (all the different copies I have of “Fear Not the Cycle of Life” as proof) and their ability is unmistakable. I will stake my entire reputation on this claim: Signals to Vega is the pinnacle of post-rock. Into The Arms of Infinity is proof that what I said on November 22, 2010 was correct, “[Signals to Vega] will rise as one of the best post-rock bands in the next decade.” If you don’t believe me, take a listen. You’ll never be the same again. 5/5 kegs as probably the best album I’ve had the pleasure of listening to.






Jorge Arana Trio — Mapache (2012)

Posted: February 23, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Album, Reviews
Tags: , , , , , ,

MapacheOkay, so I honestly don’t know what I could or should say about these guys. Typically, I like talking about the structure of the music as well as the similarities I find shared with other artists, but I really have no idea where to start with JAT.
Next, I’m not really sure how to classify them. Are they jazzy math rock? Or maybe they’re mathy jazz (rock?).
For my own curiosity, I asked Jorge (the band) what their influences were (among a slew of other questions), and got a response from Jorge (the man) in which among his cited influences were Arnold Schoenberg and Charles Mingus. Now I start to get it. For those unfamiliar, check out those links. Any musician worth his weight in cassettes should know who both artists are. Schoenberg was an expressionist composer of the early 20th century, while Mingus existed more towards the middle of the century as a jazz composer. Both were hugely influential to their respective movements. As a matter of fact, Schoenberg was responsible for a lot of major developments in atonality, and for the conception of the twelve-tone technique, which were prominent features of music in the early twentieth century. Mingus is often regarded as the successor of Duke Ellington with his incredible compositional abilities and unique style. If you haven’t already made the connection, listen to Mapache as well as the Schoenberg and Mingus pieces above. I wouldn’t necessarily claim that these two composers are Jorge’s (the band or the man) biggest influences, but you can certainly hear some similarity.
If you’re both unfamiliar with the two and unable/unwilling to check them out, I’ll do my best to describe my rationale for the comparison. JAT dabbles fiercely with tonality and the lack thereof. The cerebral quality in “Bitter Era” that I referred to earlier is just that. The melodic structure is unabashedly coarse and dissonant. Texturally, you can take from them what you want. Each of the instruments functions just as well on its own as it does in conjunction with the ensemble. Not one is afraid to go off and do his thing; like true jazz musicians, each individual thing is still beyond fully functional as a part to amass to a greater whole. You get a real sense of an improv jazz band, which I personally find impressive on a (presumably) rehearsed and recorded album. Compositionally, the album is a bit of a beast. Dissonance is elevated to an artform. If you like consonance, if you look for your standard one-four-five-one, if you like sweet and smooth, go home. This is not a cry from the Ivory Tower; as I said at the beginning, I switched it off after a very cursory listening, simply because I wasn’t in the mood. If you’ll allow me to remove my scarf and horn-rimmed glasses for a moment, I’d like to make mention that I can indulge in Penderecki and Oliveros for their musicality. I’m not afraid of the abstruse or unconventional; I do, however like a warning. This is that.
The Jorge Arana Trio takes a very agressive approach to jazz in Mapache. This isn’t easy listening. This isn’t coffee shop music (or at the very least, not the music of any coffee shop I’ve yet been to). As I was saying, this is dissonance on steroids. If you plan on listening, you need to go in knowing you won’t always get the resolution you want. JAT will tease you, and they’re very good at it. They will grab you, throw you around the scale, throw you out of the scale, yank you back in, and beat your brains in before they resolve their progressions, if they resolve their progressions.
Another admirable trait is their progressiveness. I guess it goes without saying that a jazz band with such modernist influence is going to be progressive. Even with that expectation, even with this organized chaos, you would anticipate some themes, some motifs, some revisitation.
nopeNeedless to say, I’ve taken a long time to write this review. In that time, I’ve listened to this album quite a few times. The closest it comes to being repetitive is in its final track, “Ether,” in which the guitar/bass/keyboard motif can be heard through most of the track. Even still, in the closing track, in what should be the resolution to all the madness, the breaking of the storm, the consonance that we’ve so badly desired and quite frankly have earned from the beginning, they hold out on us. The guitar and drums go nuts from start to finish. While they might make it easier at some points than others, the sole purpose of such is to hook you in to bring you along for the ride. And what a ride it is. This is easy listening, isn’t it? (Please refer to the above image.) The melody is more tangible, maybe. The disorder is still there, though. All of it. The motif gives the impression of smooth(er) jazz without pulling any punches.
Okay, okay. Even the last track is intense. Surely, it’ll end on a major chord, right? It has to end on something consonant, something sweet, something resolute. It simply must.
Please refer to the above image one more time.

So…? So I’ve said a lot of things. I’ve made a lot of references to a lot of dead musicians that aren’t exactly familiar to the layman. I talked nonstop about dissonance. I basically told you that this music is good for reasons that I understand and you wouldn’t because I’m cultured and you’re all philistines and blah blah blah look at me I studied music.
One of my biggest fears in life is showing someone music I admire, and seeing that they can’t appreciate it. Seriously. Devastating. A lot of the time, should one not appreciate it, it is because he was not adequately prepared to listen to the music. It’s like really good hot sauce. When you find a sauce with good flavor and good heat, you want to share it. You can’t just pour it on your buddy’s food without at least telling him first, though. In the same way, you don’t turn up Glassjaw while he’s napping. It’s just not fair, and he’ll be trained to hate it. Just as a good hot sauce might make you tear up a bit, JAT may take you out of your comfort zone. It will do so with good cause, though. It might hurt at first, but it’ll feel good by the end. That’s why Mapache gets four kegs.


|||Jorge Arana Trio|||Bandcamp|||Facebook|||


Fifth One's for the Bros

Leeds-based e-zine Musical Mathematics (MM) released today a 39-track compilation, the proceeds of which will go helping out the victims of Hurricane/Superstorm/Mega Douche Sandy. Among the names appearing on the compilation are Loose Lips Sink Ships, Macho Muchacho, Toe, and a ton more. It’s available on Bandcamp for £3 (which comes out to $4.72). I don’t think I really need to talk about how awesome this is, especially given how impressively it’s selling. According to their Facebook page, “[it] has become the best-selling alternative digital release on #Bandcamp in a single day[.]” I never buy digital music. If I’m going to buy music, I want a physical copy. I just picked up my download (in ALAC; I likes me my high-quality audio files), and I will be indulging shortly.

Have a heart. It’s less than five bucks.


Time Columns Announce Spring Tour Dates (2013)

Posted: February 1, 2013 by Is This Revolutionary? in Shows
Tags: , ,


Our good buddies in Time Columns are back on the road again. For all of our readers not on the eastern half of the U.S., it sucks to suck, doesn’t it? Thankfully, they’ll be in Brooklyn on a Saturday, so if anyone wants to come down for some ITR? fun, we’re going to have a blast. Check out the dates:


3/7: Washington DC (Bloombars)

3/8: Philadelphia, PA (Sprinkle Kingdom)

3/9: Brooklyn, NYC (The Public Assembly)

3/10: Boston, MA (TT the Bears)

3/11: Lehigh Valley, PA (WXLV Radio)

3/12: Altoona, PA (Pellegrine’s Lounge)

3/13: Ashtabula, OH (Dynamite Lounge)

3/14: Toledo, OH (B-Bop Records)

3/15: Columbus, OH (Kobo Live)

3/16: Pittsburgh, PA (Scumbags)



I think Joe used to like this band (R.I.P., buddy).

All right, so this was one of those albums that got lost in the shuffle. And by lost in the shuffle, I mean they gave me the download for free, I lost it, and then proceeded to listen to it on loop on Spotify. Hopefully they got at least a little bit of money. Anyway, Battlestations is this super-cool post-rock band from Brussels, Belgium. Before you say, “Ben, you always say something’s super-cool and never back it up”, I’ll give you this: In A Cold Embrace gives me this incredible feeling that I hated, therefore I loved. What I mean is that I don’t think I’ve heard an album that’s made me feel this alone since the first time I listened to Boards of Canada (try Geogaddi). Granted, the album artwork and the song titles (“You Are Not Welcome Here”) didn’t help, but it was much more than that. The songs constantly feature sounds going in reverse, which ALWAYS freaks me out, and really deep voices saying things that I don’t even want to decipher.

Between being scared half to death and suppressing the urge to turn on the lights, there was really something to love about this album. Their inspirations are all over the place, and I swear, they have some of the most impressive and eclectic layering  their songs. On their first track, they go from this cLOUDDEAD trip-hop beat to featuring a flamenco-style Spanish guitar, all the while over this guttural SunnO))) drone. The combination seems out there, but it blew my mind with how awesome it sounded together.

Track 2, “Comrade/ The Way We Grieve”, gave me the chills. Again with the layering, the entire song was like one big, fantastic game of “We Love Katamari“. The bass line was outrageous, and the fact that build-up broke all of a sudden after 5 minutes was a little bit disappointing. However, that’s part of the reason why I love this band and this album: they constantly keep you on your toes. You never know what you’re getting next, and it’s beautiful.

Rating: I literally could rant and rave for a paragraph for almost every song, but that would take entirely too long for the point I’m trying to get across: buy this album. It’s for fans for those who enjoy off-the-beaten-path instrumental music. If you’re the kind of person who likes their music one part experimental, one part heavy, one part haunting, and one part beautiful, Battlestations is your band. 4/5 kegs. [P.S.- Totally wins the “Creepiest Album Art Ever” award. By far.]