Apollo Up – Demonstration Recording EP

The liner notes to Apollo Up’s new EP, Demonstration Recording, catalog the equipment used to make the recording. Because the gear is limited, this inventory may be intended as a laugh, but Apollo Up’s songs demonstrate a similar fascination with the mechanics of music.

“Roken Is Dodelijk” – the instrumental that begins the EP – functions as an inventory of their sound. A guitar so clean and brittle that it is crunchy switches between skeletal melody and huge rhythmic riff. Along with the bass, the guitar finds memorable melodies while avoiding cliché.

Perhaps the most important element of their sound in terms of avoiding the stale, cold delivery of “math rock” is the drumming. Full and dynamic, the drumming often recalls the punk-metal hybrid of early 90s hardcore. Surprisingly, this does not contrast with the crisp guitar lines but emboldens them.

Uniquely, Apollo Up display a penchant for vocal melody far removed from the monotone barking of most post-hardcore bands. “Distance/Difference” has the hookiest vocal on the EP – its chorus is an energetic shout that never gives into crass scream. Closing the disc, “Ticonderoga” features the best of the band – the frenetic drumming, oddly catchy vocal and dramatic and intricate guitar riffs.

Apollo Up are one of the most exciting live bands around and though this EP attempts the impossible – catching that energy on a Tascam 4-track – it’s as valiant an attempt as could be made on their lo-fi equipment. Perhaps that’s the reason for the gear inventory – to show off what this East Nashville band is capable of accomplishing even with limited means.

[This piece originally appeared in the Rage.]