Thursday, January 31, 2013

Jakob - Subsets Of Sets

1. something that gives comfort, consolation, or relief
2. comfort or consolation in a time of distress or sadness

Solace's meaning is as comforting as the word sounds. Jakob's debut full-length Subsets Of Sets has been getting quite a lot of plays from me as a math and computing-oriented student (set theory and whatnot) lately, and it too embodies this word in essence, sound, and atmosphere. Ironically Jakob has a 2006 album appropriately titled Solace as well, but I'll cover that one some other time.

Subsets Of Sets is an extrospective work of art. The sounds Jakob create on here explore and divulge the inner workings of modern society and its deep impact on us as human beings. These guys put a strong emphasis on rhythms, with prominent drumming and bass often leading the charge into those often overlooked realms. "Drive By Here And Then" is a great opener that sets the tone for the album, building to a distorted climax. "Nice Day For An Earthquake" follows a similar dynamic, but takes on a different facet of living with its sound. The bassline on the track is simple but addicting, and the distorted climax speaks of a distaste for modernity that only feels too appropriate.

Many tracks on Subsets Of Sets do this, but some of the most moving tracks don't. An album favorite of mine, "Overseen" is a moody monument to all the details that pass us by on a regular basis. It builds slowly, with a harmonized cello playing intermittently, never outright reaching that climax. The track is that much more powerful for not doing so, and the dynamic is so nuanced that the track commands my attention every time it's on.

The production on Subsets Of Sets is fantastic. The drums are crystal clear and the bass is audible and constantly driving the music in new directions. Guitar melodies are subdued in the mix, letting the heavy rhythms shine through. When the guitar wants to however it becomes a powerhouse. "The Collar Sets Well," "Ageena," and the end of "Ryan" all collapse upon themselves in a distorted frenzy. It's beautiful in a big-picture kind of way.

What I find interesting about this album is a little interview I found on the internet, originally posted in Pavement magazine circa 2001, where the band describes their songwriting process:
'There's no actual physical song writing ever involved in our musical creation. It comes down to us getting into a room and just taking whatever comes our way basically. We try and keep all preconceptions of music out, and just let something come to us, or just fiddle around til something happens naturally between the three of us, and then once something does, then we work on it. That's just one way of trying to keep our music completely original and completely ourselves.'
This may not be that unique outside of post rock, but when the music is so textured and emotionally powerful, it really impresses me. Solace straight from the soul. Subsets Of Sets brings it in so many ways.

8.5 out of 10

1. Drive Here and Then
2. I'm On Your Side
3. Nice Day for an Earthquake
4. Ageena
5. A Moment from Different Angles
6. Aural
7. Calmrock
8. Overseen
9. Sainnes
10. Ryan
11. The Collar Sets Well
12. Some Summer


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