I’ve reached a point where I probably can’t go too long without touching on a release from Art As Catharsis. They just know exactly what’s up. Case in point today: Desbot. I haven’t heard of Desbot until recently, and I might be forgiven for that, because Pass of Change is their debut. I’ve always had a soft spot for post-rock, and I could easily say it’s one of my favorite areas in music, but I’ve been quickly desensitized after my acquaintance with the genre. By that I mean, more precisely, that many bands just have a checklist of tropes to get out of the way, with nothing novel to offer. Desbot couldn’t be further from that, and that’s why I love them and, in turn, Pass of Change.
I think that what makes post-rock great, at a fundamental level, is the way it calls to emotion. There’s nothing like lush textures tugging at heart strings. Desbot knows exactly how to do this while sounding utterly fresh and bite-sized. We’re not looking at quarter-hour epics and thousand-layered tracks, but we get all the massive moods and associated boons related to such a construction, with a much more digestible frame at hand. Pass of Change is relatively short and distributes its sonic narrative with short songs. While this isn’t anything out of the ordinary, it does seem to be an approach not often associated with the style.
Structurally, the post-rock identity stays firmly in place, as it would be obvious by now, being accurately trimmed and condensed into a smaller body. I often find that trimming in any way brings to light only shortcomings, but in this case, it works like a charm. The songwriting is elegant, fresh, and engaging. The way it is voiced adds lots of weight to the feel, while retaining that hallmark pensive and/or wistful air. You know, the stuff that makes you want to stare at stars and contemplate the nature of existence.
You might want to pedal back a few steps and ask me what’s up with that ‘weight’. You heard it right the first time. This isn’t a diaphanous kind of post-rock record, which revels solely in melody and cosmic artifices. There’s a lot of gritty and thick low end to go around. It’s part of the band’s signature, and I have to say that on my first listen, I wasn’t immediately sold on it. It’s weird in that way, because it creates a hearty dissonance between what you expect and what you get. It’s obviously best to shed all expectations before diving in. The ever-present bass lines, which are as groovy as they are dark, ultimately create a sweet balance and beautiful contrast.
Pass of Change isn’t trying to reinvent anything, but it’s a lovely new direction in a vastly explored territory. It also showcases that Desbot know what they’re going for. The band shows us that there’s still plenty left to touch. Pass of Change is a great first step, which shows a good deal of promise. It doesn’t shy away from saying what it wants, and it does so quite concisely and gallantly.