ith the Godspeed crew splintering to spend more and more time with side projects and other pursuits, the terrain of post-rock has seemed somewhat barren for the past two years. New templates are being fleshed out, experiments are being forged, but an aesthetic or trend hasn’t quite caught yet, igniting another band that is vaulted into the uncomfortable position of becoming an adjective.
The Beans won’t become an adjective for some new genre of post-rock. But at least they have the country and genre already in place. The Vancouver quintet has been refining their sound for far too long for their newest album, Bassplayer to have the shock of the new required to shift entire paradigms of music listening. And that’s perhaps why it’s such a good album. A band that, by now, is at total ease with itself and each other, the Beans interact with each other almost instinctively. Near the end of “Number Four”, for instance, the drummer plays along presumably on the side of his drum lightly, allowing a lonely piano and guitar figure to carry out the song’s solemn final minutes.
But the years of playing together, famously including one 48-hour performance, don’t really get at why Bassplayer succeeds where other post-rock albums usually fail. It’s a number of reasons. First, despite the fact that there are only four tracks on the album, the band usually covers more than one idea per song. “May 6 Expires” moves from moody smoldering jazz-infused at its beginning to a tape-looped ambient epic by its end eleven minutes later. It maintains the same shape the entire time, but it never feels like the group is biding its time.
Similarly, the album highlight, “Galuda” is a propulsive eleven-minute groove that perhaps might be the most dance-inflected post-rock track in a long time. Like a good dub, the band subtracts and inserts elements at will, building up tension and release throughout its length before its eventual fade-out.
The other major reason the album succeeds is in its length. Clocking in at a respectable 44 minutes, the band never outwears its welcome on the listener. For fans new to the genre, it’s a nice antitode to the epic lengths of Godspeed. And for those that are already fans of the genre, they’ve achieved the near impossible: they leave you wanting more.
And while the whole thing takes a turn for the expected in Bassplayer’s cruelly triumphant closing number, the album may stand as the group’s most fully realized moment. And as an introduction to the band, you couldn’t do any better.