There's been a void in my life ever since The Purkinje Shift disbanded. Comprised of three very talented musicians, they played a version of instrumental math/post rock that managed to be both angular and melodic. (Haven't heard of them? Go here, NOW and listen to them.) Anyway, for a couple of years or so, they were easily my second favorite Atlanta band, and I've sincerely mourned their demise.
"But Tracers," I hear you ask. "What does that have to do with Plexorjet?"
Well, first off, Plexorjet's also based in Atlanta, but that's
not the reason I made the comparison. It's more based on my
first reaction upon playing City Under Siege,
which is Plexorjet's first full length release. Although the
first song, Foot Bag, struck me as a instrumental version
of something by Toenut (yet another defunct Atlanta band), the
first 30 seconds of the next song, Austin City Limits,
began with such a staccato guitar rift that I couldn't help
but be reminded of The Purkinje Shift. And therefore, when Plexorjet's
understated vocals broke into the mix, I was disappointed. Rationally,
I know I shouldn't be, and yet…my mind had already drawn the
comparison. Similarly, during remaining 8 songs, I would be
totally engrossed in the instrumental interplay, and then the
vocals would come in and I would be stunned again.
Truth be told, the vocals actually work in the context of Plexorjet's work. When their songs are building to a peak, the vocals tend to act as a cathartic release. That's not to say that they start screaming or wailing, but rather that the individual vocal lines (usually added in subdued melodic tenor) break apart the tension of the music. Furthermore, most of the lyrics are just quick snippets that overlay only part of the songs - they don't pervade the atmosphere in the way most people would expect. It's a pretty cool to use the vocals as an accent, and in the context of City Under Siege, I like it, as long as I don't let my preconceived notions interfere.
In the end, every time I play this album, I wonder why I don't listen to it more. I suppose there is a certain sameness of form in some of the songs. And to me, some of their influences (such as Toenut, or even Tortoise) are a little too front and center. But I do enjoy City Under Siege, even if my reasons aren't exactly clear in my own mind. Is it that I like the music so much? Or is it rather that it recalls the sound of a band that's no longer together? I think it's the former, but I have to confess I'm not entirely sure. It doesn't really matter, I suppose - good music is just that, and it'll have to be enough.