April 14 2015 07:36 PM

Local guitar hero shines on 'Die Einöde'


Die Einöde (self-released)

Fans of prog-rock can be testy fuckers. Die-hards of the genre want epic instrumentation and complex time signatures, but there's only so much fantastical lyricism and Neal Peart-style drum solos they can take before they run the risk of alienating their buddies at the weekly D&D game. Most fans can agree on albums like Rush's 2112 and even Tool's Ænima, but it takes a special kind of geek to argue the merits of the superfluous musical hyperbole found on albums like Hemispheres and 10,000 Days.

I'd like to think that local guitarist Joileah Concepcion had the "less is more" approach in mind when she started the band Gletscher. The fact that the band's name means "glacier" and the title of their second album, Die Einöde, translates to "the wasteland" should be indicative of the kind of aural ass-kicking that's in store. But there's something eerily beautiful about the record that even casual fans of the genre can appreciate. I'd love to say it's Concepcion's voice, a suitably pretty instrument that she somehow never thought to use in all-instrumental bands like local math-rockers Sleeping People. However, it's not limited to that. Her guitar riffs are so adept and precise that, when combined with Swiss drummer Raphael Peter's ferocious syncopation, it verges on something resembling a death march grand-marshalled by the Grim Reaper (listen to the one-two punch of "Sweet Swiss Nothings" and "Valentine" to get an idea).

Die Einöde is rounded out by a nice rotating cast of bassists that includes Kenseth Thibideau (Sleeping People, Rumah Sakit), Brad Lee (The Album Leaf, Mr. Tube) and Tool's Paul D'Amour, but there's never any doubt that Concepcion is the star. In a genre that's often oversaturated in testosterone and male fantasy, it's nice to see a woman with the chops and moxie to hang with the boys. The fact that she has a keen sense of prog-rock's artfulness, but can still keep the songs concise, is a nice bonus that will hopefully win Gletscher some fans well beyond the local scene.