Alaskan/Co-Pilot, “Euthanize”/”The Bering Sea”
The last time I listened to a nine-minute song, someone had left their Tool CD in my car by mistake. I take my music in delectable bite-sized chunks, and if I so happen to want to hear them in a long-form format, I press “Repeat.”
Taking that into consideration, I was directed to the first official release from The Treaty Oak Collective, a micro-label based in Texas that specializes in limited record pressings. The release was a 12″ vinyl split by Canadian post-metal trio Alaskan and Houston’s own instrumental rock quartet Co-Pilot. One release, two bands, two songs, and a damn near twenty minute running time — but more on that later.
Co-Pilot has been around the better part of a decade but only started breaking out in their current lineup since 2005. They construct brooding, atmospheric instrumental rock music, with layered guitars, pedal effects, and bare, stripped-down drum tracking. Their music often has a depressing, morose undercurrent to it. They often get compared to Explosions in the Sky, but that’s only fair in that they are both instrumental bands from Texas. Co-Pilot have none of the “femininity” and “pacifism” in their music that EITS does. Explosions in the Sky is what you listen to when you want to write a love poem to a girl; Co-Pilot is what you listen to when you’re driving in your truck along a barren landscape after a nuke just hit and you’re contemplating the meaning of it all as the world’s about to end.
Their contribution to the release is “The Bering Sea.” The song starts with a lonesome grey guitar motif that leaves you with the sense that you’re walking alone in a snowcapped tundra, the lone survivor of a plane crash, and as the song develops it presses upon you a sense of urgency and a distinct discombobulation, as starvation and frostbite set it until you are finally forced to accept your fate and are set upon by a starving pack of rogue wolves. “The Bering Sea” clocks in at just under nine minutes.
Alaskan, on the other hand, has a vocalist, but in general, the smoky growl of the vocals lends itself as another atmospheric texture of the music so that it’s almost as if you’re still listening to an instrumental. They are darker and heavier than their split compatriots but still lend themselves to lush sonic landscapes in much the same way that Co-Pilot does, which is why they were probably a good fit to put a split out together. The Canadians also know how to write the occasional ten-minute song, as their track on the record “Euthanize” can attest to.
“Euthanize” starts off with a filtered rolling hum that’s part cut-off distortion and muted feedback. A dangling guitar riff emerges from the haze until the pulse of the music resolves into a cacophony of guitars, drums, and vocal distortion. Then, as the song gains momentum, it suddenly pulls back and changes directions, introducing a flutter of church bells, until the music once again punches you in the face with the next movement of the song.
One release, two bands, two songs, twenty minute running time. Yeah, it’s true I generally abhor songs over four minutes, but this is the one case where I’ll make an exception, because the songs still went by way too quickly. This release got more than it’s ample share of my “Repeat” button, so hopefully this won’t be the last time The Treaty Oak Collective decide to link up these two bands.