Gregor Samsa - name of the main character of the story 'Metamorphosis' by Franz Kafka. Team from Richmond, Virginia, USA. Starting from 2002 this team has recorded two EP-albums (recommend for listening) and one split-record together with Red Sparrowes. 55:12 is their first full-format work. Why is it worth to speak about it now? There are certain reasons.
Post-rock is not a trend, a tendency or new kind of rock-music. In general it may sound rather mixed. It's impossible to hear well any subculture through this sound. Perhaps this is the reason of low popularity of this album even with so-called indie-audience.
Post-rock originates from psychodelic and art-rock of 70s and such little-known phenomena as kraut-rock, space rock, noise rock and shoegazing. All these rock styles each taken separately are worth attention and respect. Ambient and other electronical minimalism are also present: in the form of heredital effects as well as in pure form: Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Sigur Ros.
This is supposely some kind of contemporary variant of 'adult rock', i.e. rock for those who really listens to music and analyses it while hearing. (There is such point of view that earlier such 'adult rock' was Pink Floyd, nevertheless such opinion is rather disputable). One of the most prosperous modern post-rock-groups is of cource Mogwai.
Besides post-rock is some kind of refuge for aesthetes, outsiders and escapists. It doesn't include a 'message', there are no evident oppositions to any phenomena of surrounding reality, there is no joining and fascinating quantity of ideas. During post-rock concerts music should be listened in the standing position with eyes dropped (or staring at emptiness) without any unnecessary movements. Post-rock doesn't appeal to anybody concrete and doesn't propose any revelations, there are no songs about teenage angst or three stripes on sneakers. There are in general few songs, this is mostly instrumental music.
Though speaking about Gregor Samsa, we must point out that they have songs. There is no doubt, these songs have 'some meaning', they are composed and sung, but they don't make an impression of songs, it's better to say that 'they include vocalism'. Unlike shoegaze with vocalism mercilessly smeared over the plate of guitar outrage. In such a way it is turned into ambient, texts and voices (male - Champ Bennett, female - Nikki King) are rather distinguishable but they don't dominate.
Because of its intrispective nature post-rock has never been optimistic and energetic, especially this group - it's something special. 55:12 is like time-bomb. Eight compositions, accent at apathy, sluggishness, supernatural melancholy and hopelesness. Even not depression but some kind of post-depression if it may exist. All this is infectious and dangerous. "Even Numbers" - track #2 is epic and monumental, it is a pure sculpture or maybe memorial stele, laconic lyrics alike with epitaph. Despite these associations perhaps this is the most outstanding album's track. For creating compositional plot the group uses rhythm section as well as three guitars, synthesizer and violin (alto). Nevertheless they don't abuse the 'sound stream', instruments are measured and combined in the right way.
As concerns "These Points Balance", we may say that here we feel like hovering on a balloon in airfree atmosphere of stylized guitar echo. By the way Sigur Ros also used such sound in their album Agaetis Byrjun.
In general it must be said that the structure of the album is logical and even throughout the whole its length, no surprises, sharp junctions and red herrings, it's sincere and honest. Conclusive part is "Lessening" - the ensemble plays braking decadent blues. We hear the sound of inevitability itself and taking advantage of our weak-williness, Gregor Samsa drown us tenderly in swamp of melancholy and sadness... It's all ending now. The one consoling thing is that the whole ensemble joins us in this process.