Grails, Burning Off Impurities

Grails, Burning Off Impurities

On Burning Off Impurities, their fourth full-length release, the reticent Portland quartet Grails take post-rock to its logical extension, removing the rock from their music almost entirely in favor of a loose assemblage of folk sounds backed by a conventional drumset. The result sounds like vaguely Eurasian rock, suggesting something with a passing resemblance to Gogol Bordello or the Ukrainians, but with a very important difference.

Most acts that blend Eurasian folk with rock come at the music with an insider’s perspective on both genres, resulting in demystified music. They play up the genuinely comedic aspects of both traditions, creating a pastiche that refers to both simultaneously.

Grails, on the other hand, treat folk music as deeply mysterious, using its alienness to emphasize the scope of their expansive post-rock, and ultimately blending it seamlessly into a musical idiom that seems not only to reach across the globe, but to span it, transporting the primal, crushing drive of rock onto the steppes of central Asia. Removed from its native context, rock no longer sounds like a thing of modernity, but instead roars like a conquering barbarian and wails like a clairvoyant bard. This, like nearly all post-rock, is an unsmiling and unapologetic type of music. It’s capable of taking the listener to strange and breathtaking new places, but it demands to be met halfway — if you can’t take Grails seriously, you simply won’t understand.

(Temporary Residence Limited -- P.O. Box 60097, Brooklyn, NY. 11206-0097;; Grails --
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Review by . Review posted Wednesday, September 26th, 2007. Filed under Reviews.

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