Kolya – S/T


You can read a lot into the material record labels send out with their releases. Caulfield goes into a long discussion about how genres are irrelevant and let the music of Kolya speak for itself. Translation: they can’t figure out how to describe it either.
Somewhere between modern post-rock and math-rock and mid-90’s emo lie Kolya’s brand of jerky, powerful, emphatic music. The percussion is complex, and time changes abound. The guitar comes fast and yet melodic, oddly tuned and mixing with a thick bass. And the vocalists almost never sing, instead speaking and practically shouting, but never giving way into screams. Sometimes it’s one person, sometimes multiple parts. And one moment the guitars will be coming fast and furious – yet never quite falling into the hardcore realm of some of this band’s counterparts – and the next it will be soft and melodic. It’s never too loud, never quite soft, but always twisted and powerful.
From the first shouted “We talked / like noises / that go away / when lights turn on” to kick off “Robots Dream in Black and White,” the song takes you on a convoluted series of twists and turns, going from deep, thick guitar and spoken vocals to more up-tempo guitar and practically shouted, stream-of-consciousness lyrics. There’s almost singing on “Somnambulism,” and it’s almost shouting, yet this variation lends this song a more intense and powerful feel, as much as the more rocking guitars do. My favorite track, “Resuscitation” reminds me quite a bit of Current and Indian Summer, and I get shivers at the spoken lyrics (“It took longer than I thought it would, to find a blank space / And my heart pounded loudly as I thought of… and began to write again”), the winding guitars, the more moody feel.
In something of a DC-shouty feel, “Escape Artist” starts with dueling vocalists, one shouting “exit,” the other “the stage,” and they mix vocals throughout this herky-jerky track. There’s more of that on the somewhat Q and Not U-style “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” while “Astronaut” has a bit of a slower At the Drive-In sound to it, more moody and focused on some stellar crisp guitar lines. “Cymbals Vs. Skateboards” sounds a bit like old Indian Summer, with spoken vocals accompanied mostly by percussion and some guitar bursts, but here backing vocals are used now and then, softly sung “whoa-oh-oh.” By “Idaho,” the band has calmed down and even sing somewhat to a more restrained song for almost a Boys Life sort of feel. “Horizons” ends along the same feel, only more moody, more urgent and angry even, as the lead singer speaks “In it you can sense that perfection is forever all around us… and not meant to be human.”
No, I have no idea how to describe Kolya either. After the first few listens, I was turned off by the spoken vocal style and thick-feeling tone to the guitars and bass, but repeated listens pounded the intensity and brilliance of this band into my head. No, I didn’t even like it much at first, yet now I play it over and over again. The vocals grated at first but now come packed with feeling that reminds me of the great mid-90’s emo bands. Maybe that’s why I love this so much. Kolya combine that feel with more modern DC- and math-rock feel, and it makes for one hell of an album.