If I were to do one of those irritating ‘what-I-have-most-played-this-last-week-on Spotify/LastFM’ things, you would find a couple of polar opposites: the peerless Believers album from A.A. Bondy, and this self-titled EP from Alarmist. Alarmist are another band from the small but beautifully formed roster from the Eleven Eleven stable in Ireland. Comprising muti-instrumentalists Neil Crowley, Elis Czerniak, Osgar Dukes and Barry O’Halpin, Alarmist came to my attention via the magnificent Halves, the other (currently larger) project of Elis Czerniak.
This five track EP weighs in at around twenty five of your earth minutes but somehow feels more like an album than an EP. At the time of first listening a few weeks back I was struggling with material from a few post rock bands and finding their rather predictable approaches less than satisfying – in my mind I had lazily slotted Alarmist into that same post rock box. But that’s a mistake, their influences for me are more akin to the Thrill Jockey stable and the influential and inspiring Tortoise – so, more jazz references than anything else – but also too the combination of instruments that include woodwind, glock and synth make for a richer more unexpected concoction.
Vitamin Saturday kicks the set off, quickly establishing the tight energetic drumming, big bass sound supporting the chiming guitars and sundry extra instruments that characterise the set. Car Park Showdown has that lovely plunky guitar sound and bass guitar slides of mid-era Tortoise and those powering drums.
Giraffe Centre, the fulcrum of the set, has some propulsive drumming driving the track along, turning what might be a pleasant, strolling-speed melody into something much more insistent. Overlaid above this are xylophone/glock and a clarinet led melody with wonderfully spiky scratchy guitar and plump fat bass lines. A rich and rewarding track.
Clapper is perhaps most redolent of Tortoise , especially early on, again with the great combo of rounded bass lines and tight drums. The last track Bath Time for Squid feels perhaps the most experimental, running from a Vampire Weekend’ish opening into the jerky guitar-led section with a little brass and clarinet before a quiet interlude that moves into the rolling final section.
A very fine debut indeed that presages yet greater things. In the way that I long to see Halves do some shows in the UK, I would love to see some of their mates like Alarmist play some dates this side of the Irish sea. From this set and the rumours from those who have seen them, it sounds like Alarmist would put out a mesmerising live show. Go buy their EP – don’t be put off by the black background to the Bandcamp front page, persevere and cough up the five euros and help the lads out.