The Cyrillic Typewriter Your True Emblem
Published Sep 23, 2016The Cyrillic Typewriter is the avant/post-rock project of Jason Zumpano, featuring other members of Destroyer and Frog Eyes. The instrumentation includes vibraphone, Rhodes piano and other keyboards, guitars, upright bass and electronics. Beyond that, pinning down any particular mood or moral is a bit more slippery.
The majority of the tracks are under three minutes long (about half are under two), but since they still take their time unfurling, they don't really get to develop very far. This means most of them are just one-to-three-minute soundscapes, fine in various ways but without much functionality (too short to lose oneself in). They also jump around in timbre and mood from one track to the next, making the album a bit inaccessible as a whole. Post-rock is supposed to use the ingredients of rock for compositions rivalling the expressiveness and elegance of so-called "classical" music; that's not the case here. There is no narrative, nothing to move the body to, and the moments of emotional vulnerability are few and far between.
On the bright side, isolated abstraction can still make for some interesting set pieces. Two kinds of timbres stand out amidst the rest of the ambience here: the trembling vibraphone ("Evening Mirrors," "A Sinister Glass" and "Sad Mud"), and the scratchy, bowed upright bass ("Statue With Eys" and "Freshly Minted Medal"). The most interesting parts of the album involve the mixing or interplay of the two ("The Jeer" and "Built Echoes," for example). A stronger EP probably could've been made with just tracks 3, 5, 6, 12 and 13.
A better sense of direction might help iron things out; someone should get these folks to soundtrack a sci-fi/horror film or show like Arrival or Stranger Things. (Jaz Records)