I’ve always maintained that bands who make great music but fail to deliver the goods lyrically are missing an opportunity, building themselves a platform and then finding that they have nothing worth saying when they stand on that musical podium. So what about instrumental bands, ones who deliberately eschew the lyrical path? Well, when you get a band as wonderfully adept at creating wordless songs, I’m happy to throw my argument out of the window. After all, what would I know?
If debut album, Chronopoly, remained a cult favourite amongst math rock connoisseurs and the more obsessive, underground elements of the alt-rock fraternity, The Occident sounds set to widen the bands appeal. I guess instrumental music is never going to fit the mainstream in a big way, most people mining the commercial seam are have to bow down to easy choruses and more obvious hook lines. But if that is the corner shop Lambrusco, this is a perfectly aged vintage port, something for special occasions, to saviour and share only with your closest friends.
It is an album of contrasts: wonderfully complex musical structures yet with obvious and accessible grooves, brutal bass lines and muscular riffs vie for space alongside delicate and considered orchestration and solid deliveries easily hit home even though they seem driven by some sort of jazz-metal experiment. Clever yet accessible, punchy yet perfectly conceived. Let the mainstream tread water and bask in the fading light of David Grohl shaped glories, if you want something truly innovative Town Portal will not only tick all the right boxes, it will offer up boxes that you didn’t even know existed.