And So I Watch You From Afar – Letters EP (2011)

I just love it when I happen to go with the flow, from one comment to the next, from one random review to the other, and I end up with a new band under my belt, to love and cherish and tell stories about. It always happens sort-of unconsciously, taking me by surprise, and I’m especially thrilled when I find a group so refreshing and energizing and different, as it the case today, with ASIWYFA.

Truth be told, I ought to have stumbled across them sooner, given that I listen to a lot of post-rock, but somehow it just hasn’t happened until very recently. They have quite a discography already, issuing albums and EPs like a veritable musical tornado, and I’m very glad to have found them on Bandcamp, since that gives me the chance to properly make their acquaintance – they have most of their releases on that site, ready and eager for repeated listening. I chose the Letters EP to talk about today, because it very nicely encapsulates the wonderfully contradictory feeling their music gives me – their songs make me want to head-bang and giggle at the same time.

ASIWYFA have a hard edge to their music, a way of expressing themselves at Mach 3 speeds and intensities, but that doesn’t mean they’re about to project an air of doom and gloom. In fact, every time you feel like they’re headed into a “serious”, truly bad-ass direction, they make a break for it and defuse the situation with a joyous clap of the hands, or a jazzy swoon, or a second-long lighthearted tribal dancing ditty, always off-balance, always surprising and enticing, like the best piece of candy you’ve ever imagined. I spent yesterday night and most of today listening to their albums and I have to say they’re surprisingly consistent in their shenanigans, even though on a full-length LP it gets a bit draining after a while, since it’s so hard to keep up with all the shifts and slides. But on the shorter releases, this playful style does them great justice and acts like a very pleasant tonic.

One of my main qualms with progressive metal is that, even though that genre boasts the same lack of interest towards safe, repetitive rhythmic and harmonic patterns as this band, they usually do it in such a sanctimonious way, so eager to prove their skill at crafting askew music, that they suck all the simple joy out of the whole thing. It’s funny to see a band like ASIWYFA gleefully playing around with as many ideas on the span of one EP as some prog-metal giants exploit and milk dry on entire hour-long albums. These guys are the tricksters of post-rock in my book, the protean jesters, capable of the most surprising and enchanting games I’ve heard in a long time.

This is happy music, music to which one dances to alone and chaotically, music for sunny and cold days, for light and wit and jokes and flirt. It’s hard to seriously analyze and play straight-faced critic when dealing with such a torrent of pure fun, so I won’t even bother. Open the windows wide, breathe in and let this EP energize you – it’s the most effective musical battery I’ve found in quite a while. Enjoy and I’ll see you soon!

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