Of the bands I’ve written about for this Lady Obscure Music Magazine, Postures are perhaps the most obscure, and information about them is hard to come by. Their press release, for example, was intriguingly lacking in information, and their website too lacks a helpful ‘about’ section. This is no criticism, instead the air of mystery only contributes to the slightly other-worldly air of their debut, self-titled, album.
Make no mistake; this is a difficult album to get to grips with. The proggiest and jazziest of jazz-prog fusions, Postures simultaneously entices and demands the listener’s attention whilst also retaining an off-hand mood and sense of distance. Although tough to get across in a review, the upshot of this paradox is that this becomes a difficult album to rate – the hard-to-define feel of Postures is that it’s incredibly mood dependent. At times, the record was a sure-fire 5/5; at others, much less so. When listening to the album there’s no middle-ground, but if I could give this album two ratings I would!
The uncompromising nature of Postures is both their greatest asset and downside. The adjectives ‘catchy’ and ‘easy’ do not easily fit this record’s description, and to understand it requires complete immersion in the album’s soundworld. Intricate rather than intense, psychedelic rather than powerful, I think the paradox of Postures’ off-hand mood can be mostly put down to the vocals, dutifully underplayed by Paulina Nyström. Placed relatively low in the mix, she adds to the record’s folk-induced psychedelia and places more attention on the complete efforts of the entire band.
Postures is strongest on the more ambitious tracks, where the listener fully surrenders to heady prog-jazz-folk mix. Quakes is one such occasion, but also a good example of the difficultly built into the album. A solid 10-minute instrumental jam built on a single riff, this is a track which can seem monotonous, especially as background music. On the other hand, if you are willing to spend the time and energy immersing yourself in the build-up of sounds, flow of instrumentation and various changing minute details, then it’s a whole another experience all together.
Quakes is really the climax of the record, which suggests something about the avant-garde ambition and direction the band are willing to take. It finds parallels in Solipse, another extended jam, both harkening back to the psychedelic meandering wanderings of late 60s/70s prog. If you’re looking for direction and even melody here, this is the wrong place. This is music which rises and falls but ultimately does not travel, instead following both the circularity of freeform jazz and the spaciness offered by classic prog.
The band acknowledge this implicitly: the closing track, immediately following Quakes, is a reprise of the opening Circles, a whimsical, atmospheric lament. Between these two poles, the penultimate and then final tracks, Postures oscillates. Falling Into Place, the highlight of the album for me, gives us a wonderfully chilled contrast to the jamfest of Solipse.
Despite the more laid-back moments though, the technical prowess of the musicians of Postures is always evident, as it needs to be. This is a form of prog based wholly on the tightness and aesthetics of live playing/jamming, rather than the structures and intricacies of songwriting (as, for example, with the pre-eminent Steven Wilson).
In turn, then, if you’re willing to invest in such an in-depth wash of sound, then this is for you. Be warned though: this is an album requiring effort, but an effort not without reward.
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