Deep Music Criticism #20 – TesseracT – April

A TesssracT is:

  1. The name of a mythical, 4-dimensional geometric cubic shape and
  2. The uber-pretentious name of a young “Djent” metal band from the UK.

I stumbled onto them when winding my way down the list of popular djent metal bands over at got-djent.com. They are ranked #4.

What’s so striking about this band – and the song I’m featuring here – is the absolutely sexy way they combine:

  1. Syncopated, distorted djent metal riffs
  2. Extended jazz-like harmonies
  3. An R&B vocal performance that would destroy every single contestant on American Idol or X Factor

Hearing the band was a revelation in that it made me realize how well these elements go together. There is nothing funkier and sexier than the kind of syncopated ostinato rhythms found in djent metal. They’re absolutely danceable. Matching that with a soulful vocal and sly 7th and 9th extended jazz chords is the kind of genius move that Steely Dan might have made if Becker and Fagen had been born 30 later than they were.

April is a mostly-acoustic version of a song that the band released in full-on electric form earlier this decade in their debut album. Its weird for a band to record a studio acoustic version of a recent studio version of the same song, released just last year. Regardless, the acoustic instrumentation accentuates the aforementioned sex effects even more.

Some things to note:

Vocal

Ashe O’Hara is just a very talented, mature tenor. He has complete control of his instrument – a steady pitch, expressive phrasing, and controlled vibrato. He’s so in control that he executes about 4 or 5 perfectly slow, upward glissandi that range just a whole step in pitch, but stretch over an entire bar. That kind of feat is only possible with some serious talent and learned skill. Props.

Drum n’ Bass

This is the backbone of djent. Guitar solos, vocals, harmony/chord changes are all really optional in the djent genre. This is why the most popular djent performance on youtube is a drum-and-bass duet between Fredrik Thordendal and Morgan Ågren. The drummer and bassist in April are locked so tight, they might as well be gay lovers entwined in the act of coitus.

Space

Some might call it “atmosphere”. The empty, echoing space that occurs at around the 3:00 mark – combined with echoing jangle electric guitars (ala The Edge) – is just beautiful  and give more impact to the surrounding sections in the song.