Posted by: Necci – Apr 04, 2012
Ides Of Gemini – Constantinople (Neurot Recordings)
Over the course of the two short-form releases that Ides Of Gemini has offered since 2010, the band has showed a considerable level of consistency. Their mixture of eerie, harmonized vocals, heavy, detuned guitar buzz, and sparse, martial percussion had several sources tagging them “dream doom,” a term which seems a little pat, but isn't necessarily innaccurate for the songs that comprised the Disruption Writ EP and their split with Vermapyre. It was well-executed and distinct enough that a comparison to any other band would seem forced, but it was a little difficult to tell how the band would be able to pull off a full-length with the same efficacy that they had on their briefer outings. It's not that any of the older songs wouldn't lend themselves to a more expansive effort, but the sort of minimalism in which they trade can be difficult to sustain over an album's length without becoming monotonous.
But with Constantinople, Ides Of Gemini has evolved without sacrificing any of the essential components that made them a fascinating band in the first place. All the elements of their previous releases are there, and theirs is still a deft balance of the heavy and the ethereal, but the songs have a stronger ebb and flow, with the intensity of the performances building and receding in a manner that wasn't readily apparent on their earlier output. The vocals of Sera Timms and Kelly Johnson are noticeably more assertive – where before they tended to waft over the music, they now cast about with a gale-force intensity, sometimes supporting each other in harmony, sometimes offering tightly-intertwined counterpoint. The guitars and drums are more active as well, with the hazy drone that characterized their approach from the start augmented with some genuinely visceral heaviness that's more insistent and aggressive than anything in which the band had previously indulged.
And one might assume that the loud-quiet-loud dynamics of songs like “Resurrectionists” might render the Ides Of Gemini's sound more conventional, but if anything the incorporation of time-tested elements allows them to confront a listener's expectations of both those selfsame conventions and their approach to subverting them. Because while these rock and roll tropes are certainly recognizable, they seem to be used more as a tool of orientation, a recognizable feature jutting through a mass of sound that can otherwise prove unsettling. And even in the most unabashedly forceful and direct moments, theirs is still a vision of heavy music that doesn't rely specifically on volume or speed – more a heavy atmosphere, a confluence of aesthetic components that blend into a haze of sound, which possesses a density that might not be readily suggested by the sparsity of their line-up.
While individual songs on the album possess internal variations and deviations from the previously established aesthetic, the album on the whole doesn't really fluctuate too widely from its singular path. This isn't a strike against it, however. The band's approach to writing music, like the songs themselves, is based on a slow build, a gradual evolution that nudges their sound into new territory without seeming to encourage it too forcefully. But regardless of the changes, the band's music still evokes much of the same imagery as they have since their inception. Theirs is music that calls to mind deserts and tundras, angry ghosts emerging from the ether, and half-buried memories like some manifestation of everything dark and menacing that remains somehow inviting and difficult to resist.
By Graham Scala