Gravitas – Godspeed & Good Hunting

5 out of 5

Label: self-released

Produced by: Alex Loew

Ordered on a whim from Indianapolis label Auris Apothecary, I will admit to not expecting much from Gravitas. A self-released, one-off thing; a band about which I sincerely cannot find a scrap of info beyond the AA page from which I bought it; it was cheap and I figured why not. The description of “dissonant, indie, jangly pop” and other buzzwords sounds great, but there’s kind of an Occam’s Razor with a lot of music: there might be reasons you haven’t heard of something, or that it never had distribution beyond 200 burned copies. Not meaning whatever it is isn’t good, but maybe it was improved on by so-and-so’s later band, or other bands in the scene. And there are a lot of buzzwords in that description. Thus: expectations – low.

As we know, though, I am also an idiot, and Gravitas is one of those undiscovered gems that – firstly, haughtily – makes me feel lucky for having picked up, but more importantly: that you wish had had wider distribution and exposure, if only so there was more of a Gravitas audience and more Gravitas material.

So what is this thing? Well, dissonant and indie, yes, but I’d probably leave off jangly pop as a bit misleading. The 6-track EP starts off with a punch, though: some heavy, mathy instrumental rock that throws down a gauntlet of proof of skills: Tyler Damon’s loose-limbed but tight drumming; Alex Loew’s bass and Greg Simpson’s guitar hitting heavy riffs and note-noodling that juxtapose and complement one another. This dynamic of loud and quiet elements, and complex but accessible music, persists throughout Godspeed, which brings in some brief lyrics over emo-proggy jamming – a la 31 Knots – on mid-piece At All, as well as on closer Gnomon. In between this, the group also segues into some straightforward rock and some hard-hitting post-rock as well… but what’s important to note is how controlled this mish-mash is: it’s never showy. Each element feels like it serves the greater picture of the mini-album’s impact, and isn’t just there to act as a winking reference or show off fast fingers or kit mastery.

My only regret in writing this is the seeming unavailability of this disc. I wish I could point to a bandcamp page so others could check it out, get hooked, and maybe toss the since-moved-on musicians some dollars to support whatever their current endeavors may be, because even though I’m coming to this 2008 recording a decade+ too late, it’s already brought me a ton of joy, and someone should get some recognition for that.