photograph by Calum McMillan
I don’t review a lot of music that I’d call classy. For the most part I like really aggressive, really loud and thoroughly obnoxious music. My recent playlists support this. With one exception. This latest release from Glasgow based Bianca. For my money, they’re the very definition of a class act.
Genre wise I’m not sure how I’d classify Bianca on the record store shelf, but in the pub I’d probably deliver you a few sentences that included the words ‘mellow’, ‘indie’, ‘jazzy’ and ‘math rock’. And classy. Just in case the previous paragraph didn’t make that feeling quite clear enough.
‘Topiary / Co-ordinates’ isn’t an album per-se, rather a collection of the band’s EPs to date and a couple of tracks that hadn’t seen release prior to this. That doesn’t really matter, except when you consider how cohesive this release is for songs that were recorded in entirely different sessions over the evolution of a band’s early life. Then it’s really rather impressive.
The chilled atmosphere that dominates these tracks makes these songs incredibly easy to listen to. Personally I’ve found they make an excellent essay writing soundtrack. The shuffling grooves give the record a sense of momentum which is infinitely more sophisticated than the that created by simply playing fast or adopting a stomping tempo.
Bleak though a lot of this music, there’s something comforting about the minor key melancholy that dominates these cuts. Kind of like when a nice day reminds you of something, or someone, that you really miss. But in a nice way. It’s a warm and fuzzy melancholy. Which is lovely. If you’re the kind of weirdo who finds that kind of thing nice. Which I’m not. Obviously.
As awesome as everything I’ve already described is my favourite thing about these tracks is how tight they are. Even in the quietest moments the band sound tense and coiled, accenting and stabbing at moments that feel incredibly natural and satisfying. That same sense of urgency is played out in the occasional spin on a coin shift in dynamics and the flashes of tasteful instrumental wankery.
Bianca are math rock in that they can play really well, but they also know how to write songs and not just parts.Ideally all bands should be able to do that, but the practicality of the situation is that we’re forced to split those bands that can into a category all their own. If you were to ask me, Bianca are my favourite in that category. Easily.
Music this textured and intricate is a rarity in the majority of three pieces I come across, most believe that to use more chords than they have members would be utter rock ‘n’ roll blasphemy, and I find myself amazed how creative Bianca are with their instruments without straying outside their identity. Though every song features a richly melodic bass line, a plaintive vocal, melancholy guitar leads hilariously tight drums none them sound remarkably similar.
Bianca haven’t even really released an album and it’s still better than a lot of albums.
‘Topiary / Co-Ordinates’ is available now both physically and digitally via the Good Grief Records bandcamp page.