Post-rock is like those kids in high school you knew were cool but never understood why. It was something about the way they carried themselves, not really caring what everyone else thought but still being smart enough to make the honor roll. They played cello in the school orchestra but were always out back smoking cigarettes and getting in trouble for skipping class. That’s the world that post-rock created amongst us indie-philes, and that’s exactly where Tarantula AD fits in the picture.
Like many bands lumped into the post-rock genre (Tortoise, the Rachels, Kinski), the music of Tarantula AD (the AD was added after a tiff about the moniker) isn’t easy to describe. The group has thrown lyrics to the wayside and decided to fuse John Coltrane with classical set-ups and distortion. Not exactly Phillip Glass, but something Phillip Glass would yearn for if he idolized the Decemberists’ mariner style of songwriting and Iggy Pop’s punk sensibilities.
Atlantic, Tarantula AD’s freshman release on Kemado Records, is moody, fuzz-laden guitars interspersed with cello, violin and pounding drums. The album plays more like the soundtrack to a suspense film than an album from one of New York’s hipster mainstay labels, and its five songs carry more emotion in twenty-three minutes than most films yield over two hours. Opener “Grazie Signore” tosses you immediately into a morose world of swelling strings and stumbling fuzz guitars that sweep into feedback-rich crescendos. More reminiscent of the Dirty Three than anything, Tarantula AD has a way of bridging free jazz, classical music and seafaring rock. Atlantic, though brief, is a straightforward collection of songs for those needing their regular fix of intelligent instrumental music.