Incus – Fire and Bone

Fire and Bone

Boston act Incus likely chose their name because of its medical definition; a small, anvil shaped bone located in the middle of your ear. The group focuses on eclectic, lively and complex suites with a slight lunacy that undermines their technical proficiency and talent. Their new LP, Fire And Bone, legitimizes their name; Incus is something you need to hear.

The core members of the “tribe” include composer Jason Cohen on vocals, keys, accordion, and percussion, Jacob Sirois on drums and percussion, and Chris Baum (Dropkick Murphys) on violin and vocals. They also use many guests and cite influence from music and natural elements all over the world. With their use of a variety of instruments, vocals of both genders, and mesmerizing rhythms, their work is truly a unique experience.

“Claudia Always Eyes” opens similarly to Led Zeppelin’s song “In The Light” from Physical Graffiti, with cello and violins extending notes as if beginning an Indian ritual. It builds up nicely and is consistently intriguing with its development. Cohen’s voice has the quirky quality of a novelty performer, but it is still welcoming and suitable. The best comparison is Danny Elfman meets Eddie Vedder. As the piece draws to a close, the tempo speeds up and the innovation really begins. One is reminded of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum and (by default) King Crimson. “Shine” is a shorter, goofy piece that, in spirit, resembles “Vampira” by Devin Townsend (both are Polkas). The weird music aids Cohen’s voice in making this feel like a lost Oingo Boingo classic. “Dancer Through Time” begins with the best piano riff Tori Amos never used, and it reappears throughout this Kansas-esque piece. The track’ dynamics make it a journey onto itself.

Moving on, “All Hallow’s Eve” features even more affective piano, and it’s a beautiful song. It’s a straightforward, none experimental entry that is very haunting. “Medicine” starts out simply, but quickly elevates into a tribal jam while Cohen chants the title. We can envision the band marching around a boiling pot, preparing for a sacrifice. “Will U Make Me Better?” opens unusually with an accordion, but Incus are the type to try new things with their music. It’s a jazz piece featuring a new, lower female voice (like present day Joni Mitchell…but not that low). It’s another simple song with a nice chorus about redemption, and would lend itself to a cover by The Decemberists (it shares something intangible with them). The beginning of “Firehouse” is almost identical to Radiohead’s “Pyramid Song,” but eventually it moves into its own, though it’s the least interesting and varied track. It doesn’t really change during its duration. The closer, “Weight (Watt)” opens with the ominous violin of Godspeed You! Black Emperor before completely changing direction into a Mexican narrative, which is commendable. It’s a good song for drinking and dancing at a saloon.

While Incus do invoke comparisons to a lot of bands and even seem to copy them for a bit, they do combine these inspirations into a very original package. It’s no easy feet to take a page from so many unrelated acts and mold it into a whole other entity. Their love of nature and tribal customs is very rare, and they implement it well. The vocals aren’t the prettiest or emotive, but they fit with the attempt at being offbeat.

Fire and Bone is a knock out sophomore effort. It’s nice to see a large group of people share a common goal musically and have the skills to make it come true. The strange timbres, instruments, vocals, rhythm and lyrics join to make this a must hear band, and one that deserves critical and commercial success.