Quite often people ask me why I listen to hardcore or post-hardcore. Those who are questioning me say that there is no point in listening to music if there are no discernable lyrics. I’ve been told that hardcore isn’t even music because you can’t understand the lyrics. I often try to point to the fact that a song consists of far more than lyrics and that lyrics are often distracting from the art that is coming out of the amps and drum sets on stage. Säh’s “06/06” EP is proof of my theory: a five-track EP that lasts over an hour with almost no lyrics. Yes, Säh is the proof that lyrics in no way make a song.
Trying to describe Säh is somewhat akin to Lewis and Clark trying to describe the Rocky Mountains (this metaphor has nothing to do with the fact that I’m currently flying over the Rocky Mountains, or that the first time I listened to this album I was driving through the Rocky Mountains). The “06/06” EP is subtle, yet impossible to ignore. It’s gentle and brutal all at once and its recipe seems obvious only after you have listened to the EP.
The recipe? Three young men from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, two drum sets, two guitars and a desire to create music, not a record deal has produced an epic in a time when music has become a series of short stories. The music focuses on creating moods as it flows through mellow and heavy riffs. Säh never quite creates a steady melody, yet their sound never succumbs to the chaos that could be created by such a mixture. These guys sound like they want to be The Felix Culpa minus vocals - the wonderful thing is they are succeeding.
It is incredibly hard to justly describe an instrumental album that is as emotional as the “06/06” EP. The listener does not feel the same after listening to the EP and each experience is a different one. The EP is completely jarring and relaxing at the same time. While these guys will never be radio-friendly it will always be something you can put on to space out to.
Sah’s latest release has been picked up by local standby Phratry Records and is yet another example of the great ear for talent the label has. It’s a quality release, all interested parties should click on the title of this article to investigate further. These Michigan guys don’t dissappoint. Five songs: one hour. For some bands, this is a clear sign that the songs will be slow and boring, guaranteed to put me to sleep. “06/06” never comes close to putting the listener to sleep; in fact they keep the listener on the edge of their seat the entire record. The band’s style of sickeningly beautiful instrumental leaning emo (think American Football or Rites of Spring with fewer vocals) floored me the first time I heard it. The structure of the songs can be a tad repetitive, but the intense drumming (sometimes two kits at once!) gives the band a raw power that many bands lack. Sah attacks each song on “06/06” with the same math rock vigor and force, while evoking a very dark and sometimes sinister vibe without the aid of keyboards or the human voice. When vocals are employed however, they are not overpowering, and tend to be pushed back in the mix, creating a chant like effect that makes this record that much more special. In some places in fact, Sah recalls a more tempered Modern Life is War, with heavy guitar riffs backed by stellar percussion. Yet at the same time, Sah create a good deal of structured tension, building up to the climax in each of their songs and forming a totally different beast with each song. Thankfully Phratry Records have pulled these guys out of Marquette, Michigan and given the national music community one of the most creative bands going. Pick this up. This disc has stayed in my CD player for the past few months and I am still astonished at how talented these guys are. Don’t miss out, pick up the CD.
Death. Taxes. The Yankees buying their way into the playoffs. Few things are more reliable than a new release from Phratry Records, which somehow always seems to be worth listening to. 06/06, Säh’s latest album, is no exception. With a track list only 5 songs long, you may be expecting an EP length album. Surprise. 06/06 clocks in at 58:10. These are 5 long, yet tightly focused songs. Largely instrumental, Säh’s compositions gradually evolve through repeated passages—sharply jagged, achingly melodic, or heavily rocking, but always commanding attention. While Säh is a rock band, they push hard at the boundaries. If you’re hopelessly mired in the mainstream, you’re going to be quite bewildered, but for everyone else, a rich experience is waiting here. Hit the band’s My Space page [www.myspace.com/sah] and also the downloads page at Phratry Records for mp3s and links to live show videos (!!). The CD is slated for a September release, so it’s time to think about adding another disc to your collection, or if bits and bytes are more your style, look for 06/06 on iTunes.
TONE & GROOVE
If you take nothing else away from experiencing 06/06 than the word ‘unique’, you’ve hit the nail on the head. Everything from the music to the artwork and the documentation speaks of the bands “many years of relative isolation.” I have to concur, this has given them a sound that can be described as having a just touch of many things musical; be it the loops of drum and guitar that are reminiscent of the 60’s to some fascinating experimental rock that echoes the trends we’ve only seen in recent years. The problem in describing them is that you have to imagine taking a mere shaving [of] many different genres and then letting them age together. The result would sound something like SAH. Don’t let the number 5 that flashes up on your CD player frighten you either, it seems as though SAH has taken a nod from classical music, with each of their tracks having what verge on movements as opposed to songs. Another thing I appreciate about SAH is they treat the human voice as just an instrument, and only apply a smattering of it where it adds to the album as a whole. The album starts out with a beautifully even keeled “Inside you there’s a part of me scared shitless.” which hooked me right off the bat, the tracks continue with an almost circadian rhythm in “The stuff dreams are made of, the album continues this trend as each track contains different elements that mesh perfectly until the cacophonous end of “Muppet foot” that bleeds off into silence.Isolation is rarely a good thing, just ask Jack Torrence (The Shining) but in the case of SAH it’s allowed them to create a musical experience that is fascinating, pleasant and totally unique.
Drumming marathons are abound on this freaky indie rock jam fest. That’s what happens when your trio features a duo of drummers and a guitarist. Admittedly one drummer gets out from behind the kit to rock out on guitar and slice us up with some throaty vocals as well. Rhythm-heavy tribal working class rock that is both brutal and precise. Improvisations whirl around experimental indie rock fantasies that are crafty and brilliant all at once.
If you listen to 06/06, the fourth album by phenomenal Marquette, Mich.-based Indie/Post-Punk trio Sah, and the word “epic” doesn’t at least pass through your brain, you’re either a non-English-speaking person or your ears have fallen off. The CD is only five songs long, so it’s an EP, right? Well, those five songs clock in at just under an hour, so if it’s an EP, it might well be the longest one ever made. Not that it’s not worth spending time with these songs. Quite the opposite. The trio seethes intensity and their compositions are spellbinding in their fluid, serpentine structuring. Their sound reminds me of Greater Cincinnati trio Ampline, an instrumental crew that works a similar vein, mostly minus vocals (it’s several minutes in before you hear any vocals on 06/06, so I thought they actually were an instrumental group at first). Like Ampline, Sah charts out a road map that doesn’t follow the simplistic rules of “Pop songs.” It is all about impulse, resulting in a winding sonic stream on which Sah pulls the listener down behind them on a buoy. The mind-lock between the musicians that is so apparent also extends to the listener—it’s hard to not get sucked into the band’s sweeping dynamics and angled propulsion. The songs are endearingly manic, moving from heavy and clamorous to soft and twinkling. That kind of dynamic reminds me of soundtrack music—if you close your eyes, you can imagine an intense action scene, as the band members bash away in full rock-out mode, but when the energy of the scene changes and/or calms down, the music follows. While using some of the tools of the Indie Rock trade (guitar and drums, no bass), Sah’s approach is more like a composer from the Jazz or Classical worlds. The songs feel very instinctual, as if they were written by “jamming,” but, at the same time, there are parts that are so intricate that you envision the writer sitting down and carefully putting the notes onto sheet music. It makes for a totally engrossing listen. The Built to Spill-ish vocals that come in and out add texture. And each musician is a monster behind his instrument. The drums are especially impactful, huge-sounding due to the doubling-up of kits (singer/guitarist drummer Jesse deCaire switches between instruments). The group’s 06/06 album, which it self-released, will be re-released by Cincinnati-based Phratry Records Sept. 25. If you like music that doesn’t stick to the song structure rule book, get the CD, block an hour out of your day, dive in and just let it wash over you.
Säh = Drive Like Jehu + Explosions In The Sky
Säh’s third album, 06/06, has two of the best instrumental songs I have ever heard. This first track, “Inside You There’s a Part of Me Scared Shitless” and the second track, “The Stuff Dreams are Made of,” are some seriously cool songs, each of them clocking in somewhere over 10 minutes. This is how instrumental music is supposed to be written. These three dudes are bodacious… Säh consists of three members and depending on the song, there are either two guitar players or one of the guitar players hopping off the axe and jumping on a second set of drums. So either way, you’ve got dual guitar action or some double drums and that just can’t be beat….I am glad that I have discovered Säh’s music. This is one band that definitely drops the bombs on ya moms; hard rockin’ yet atmospheric.
Säh’s album is titled “06/06”, though this trio has been making noise since 01/01. This recording makes me delighted that I recently read a Ned Rorem essay in which he confesses that he frequently attends avant garde performances and wonders what he’s doing there. Säh made me scratch my head, but not in a bad way. My level of musical expertise is such that I’m reduced to the critical categories of “pretty” and “not pretty,” with the catch-all, “I might not know art, but I know what I like.” This album is not pretty, but in a good way.
Intricate guitar progressions elide from choppy blocks to concrete rhythms. It is aural Rorschach to me, much in same way as experimental jazz. I’d speculate that they admire Hüsker-Dü. However, I am reminded of a quandary that I faced as a painter. When people spent more time discussing my titles than my images, I concluded that I was in the wrong medium. My favorite titles are “Inside you there’s a part of me scared shitless” and “Ball Gladder.” Get this record for an alright stroll down a cinderblock road that sprouts weeds of iron and leather.