Imprints: Data Trails (Serein)
Imprints is a trio from London, and Data Trails is their second release after a two-part self-released debut. It’s their first for Welsh label Serein, and my first exposure to both the band and the label. The album is broken up into five pieces, some quite long, and it starts off beautifully with the twelve-minute “Horror Birds.” Patient listeners will no doubt be rewarded as it progresses from a faint, droning murmur to a gorgeous, understated arrangement for guitar, bass, and electronics. To me this sort of splits the difference between post-rock acts like Tortoise (in their most spare, early incarnations) and the gliding vibe of Emeralds, but without the jazz leanings of the former or the synth arps or guitar sprawl of the latter… so these are perhaps oblique touchpoints at best. The two longest pieces here are probably my favorite, wherein the trio has plenty of room to roam, taking their time as their ideas unfold gradually. It’s an album best experienced in proper sequence, start to finish, as the group takes listeners on a journey with peaks and valleys along the way that are well worth attentive listening.
After “Horror Birds” reveals itself to be quite lovely as an opening piece, it’s complemented heartily by a slow, patient upright bass on “Longshore Drift” (appropriately named), its strings buzzing against the casing while harmonics and some light sequencing quietly glide in the periphery. But perhaps the most stunning piece is last, succeeding largely by virtue of its relationship to the four that precede it. “The Sea & Electricity” reveals the trio to be quite capable of lovely, melodic, and harmonious sound as delayed guitar and bass recall the most gorgeous moments of Mogwai’s repertoire, a live drum kit revealing itself over time as it builds into a full-bodied, sweet finale. Given the plethora of post-rock and experimental rock groups making music these days, it’s satisfying to hear Imprints make their mark so strongly with this concise, well-crafted album. Highly recommended listening.