indignu – Odyssea

4 out of 5

Label: self-released

Produced by: John Golden (mastering)

Sweeping and immersive, indignu’s 2013 effort Odyssea focuses the group on a 5-part journey of delicate, precise strings and a rhythm section which surges – but does not burst; does not overwhelm – with power. Unlike many instrumental acts of a similar slow-build ilk, indignu does not aim to rattle speakers. There’s a likeness to “pretty” loud bands like Red Sparowes, but the group also isn’t noise avoidant; their music is both massive and subtle, loud and quiet, caustic and calculated, not so much playing the dynamic between those elements, rather finding a path that sensibly drifts between them. But I also wouldn’t call this cinematic, as it’s more contemplative than that, not allowing for an easy narrative (as thunder clouds rumble as ambience in the background – another juxtaposition of constant calm and foreboding) or any direct moments that are made for rocking out and delivering a notable hook.

That also can be said to work against the group, though, and it’s something they continue to struggle with: string-based instrumental post-rock is a thing, and though indignu bring Portugese guitar into the music, beyond the indirectness of their sound, I don’t know that there’s much to identify them by. That we end up waiting through five “Chapters” of Odyssea before elements emerge from the background and become more bold is, perhaps, too long. It is a very worthy journey, of course, and does not counter the immersiveness I’ve mentioned above, just that I don’t know if I could tell you what I’m listening to, from a handful of similar bands, without waiting through those five chapters to remember.

From here, the group would get a bit more nimble about changing things up, while still holding on to that tendency for withholding. That also has its pluses, but there’s a lack of direct identification either way. And given that, the unbroken sway of Odyssea is perhaps the most “realized” version of their approach to date, holding one’s attention with a carrot of musical release just out of grasp. That we don’t get the carrot by Odyssea’s end, but still feel satisfied by the journey, is testament to the group surely doing something right.