Instrumental post rock… instrumental post metal… instrumental sludge… It’s really hard to define Upcdownc as they have traversed almost every instrumental rock genre there is, or could be. One of the purveyors of the quiet, loud, quiet, VERY loud dynamic back in the early 2000s, the band have developed and refined their sounds over nearly 20 years of instrumental evolution.
Originally a five piece, the band released several low key releases before signing to the once formidable Tap n Tin Records (a venue based in Chatham) where upon they released several singles on vinyl and to be fair, probably their main stay album of And The Battle Is Won. Then, like so many bands they were let down by their label, which plagued their second album release Embers. From there the band seemingly opted for the DIY route as so many post-rock acts do, in terms of physical releases, but remained functional on the live circuit.
So… enough with the history lesson for those not well versed. With Score Upcdownc are now clocking at album number eight and this is a glorious, and verdant landscape, of multiple genres. The most overriding influence appears to be the work of John Carpenter, which largely combine with elegant, but expectant, Explosions in the Sky post-rock guitar lines that culminate in multiple heavy guitar builds, delivered from bands such as Mouth of the Architect.
Yeah, Upcdownc know good music. No better track reflects this on the album then Arc which itself covers a wide radius of genres and builds to deliver multiple powerful crescendo payload of heavy riffage. That said, there is no formula here. There are three interludes and four main centrepiece tracks. The interludes provide a neat segue, paving the way from one centrepiece to the next, each one providing sufficient time to embark on a gentle transition, providing sufficient traction to ensure that the listener remains engaged, yet committed to their instrumental journey.
Heavy yet haunting, beautiful yet bruising and building all the time using a blend of captivating styles…
Eternals sees a heavier, and even darker edge to Score, which does actually permeate the under tide of the whole album. The combination of the heavier guitars and the dissonance creates some serious tension. Miar ups the ante of the riffage once again with mathematic accuracy, following an opening of distortion before building into more familiar Mogwai territory.
Cold Harbour ends the album delivering the greatest build throughout the whole forty five minute runtime, with tones and textures that stand toe to toe with the likes of the more recent Cult of Luna releases.
At one point the north Kent area was a bastion of instrumental hard rock and Upcdownc have retained true to their post-rock sensibilities and blended it with a serious addiction to John Carpenter esque soundtracks.
How the Kent instrumental scene never took off I will never know but with Upcdownc at the helm, it’s clearly still going strong and this album is a triumphant reflection of their twenty years cultivating the scene as one of the true purveyors.
Heavy yet haunting, beautiful yet bruising and building all the time using a blend of captivating styles. Are they still a post-rock band? Yes but still – so much more.
Scribed by: Francisco Javier