Anyone familiar with Chapel Hill, NC’s ‘surface scene’ is probably aware of its longstanding history of American conservatism gift wrapped with Southern ‘charm’ and ‘old money’; despite this pervasive vibe, pockets of rebellion exist – music venues like the Local 506 and Cat’s Cradle, and word of mouth dives act as pressure relief valves for angst ridden youth and graduated intellectuals (the non-pretentious kind) seeking refuge from mainstream bourgeois. Even the iconic post-rock/noise purveyors Sonic Youth paid homage to the city’s anarchic underbelly in their Dirty days – on NC post-metal trio MAKE’s sophomore album, The Golden Veil, they’ve taken permanent refuge, a journey rooted in existentialism, with nods to the meditative, repetitive jams Daniel Higgs and Asa Osborne perfected in the latter half of Lungfish’s acclaimed career.
In fact, much of The Golden Veil relies on single bass lines or a single riff/melody to lay the groundwork for a particular song and each skeletonized piece, through almost musical stream of consciousness, evolves to find its appropriate skin. After several minutes of lush feedback and textured discord (mastering credits go to no other than James Plotkin) on opener I Was Sitting Quietly, Peeling Back My Skin, the album kicks into the cyclical percussive rock of Breathe – guttural chants overlie a wall of extended chords assembled to achieve what seems to be the perfect balance of melody; it’s undeniably heavy yet unequivocally harmonious – the song is BIG in every way (credit goes to producer/engineer Kris Hilbert). But MAKE are judicious in their use of force – The Immortal is a smooth cut, relying on a clean vocal and melodic electric acoustic progressions before erupting into another ‘Godflesh-ian’ amped, decimating attack. Scott Endres (guitars) and Spencer Lee (bass) split vocal duties throughout which gives the record another interesting layer to peel.
The intuitive chemistry between band members is evident when listening to an ambitious album with this level of cohesion – the way they view the world and their surroundings must be in sync. Rather than attempting to fit life’s experiences into a single preconceived notion, they see life for what it is – meaningless, random, or perhaps part of a larger design far more significant than a single human life. Viewing the world with complete objectivity leaves you open to the worst and best possibilities – tracks like We Are Coiled, in its blissfully sedate instrumentation, recalls some of the classic Lee Ranaldo/Thurston Moore collaborations from Sonic Youth’s A Thousand Leaves (1998) sessions.
Intensity has many faces and facets, and the band’s effortless transition between moods, genres, and respective styles captures each – The Architect is the standout centerpiece for the album, its 10+ minutes spent dissecting a single melodic chord progression and tracking its evolution and eventual explosion into sonic feedback and psyched out effects – it’s a hell of a reward if you spend the time digesting this one; but when the haze clears, MAKE probably aren’t too concerned with whether you truly ‘got it’ the first time around or not because the trip itself is enlightening enough and brings you just a little closer to tapping their frequency. Happy hunting indeed.
Scribed by: Jeremy Moore