The main challenge when releasing an all-instrumental album is keeping the audience interested, especially when the songs average around 10 minutes apiece. Montreal-based ethereal post-hardcore quartet C H R I S T have figured out an effective approach to this puzzle on their debut LP, T O W E R, though the level of success of their formula is up for discussion.
Opening track “Sine” expresses C H R I S T’s intentions well. The song features a plodding but mesmerizing 50-second stanza repeated several times, adding an element with each go-round. These elements are subtle — too subtle to label “Sine” a canon — but they are present enough to be noticed and for the listener not to get overly bored. And just when overly bored is about to happen, the melody (but not the tempo) changes.
“Rope,” picks up where the first track left off, though slightly more melodic, drawing elements of Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath. Early in the track, you think it may change completely as the drums drop out, but it keeps you hanging for innumerable more “verses.” Finally, three-quarters of the way through, the percussion adds a necessary dynamic, but by then the comparison to “War Pigs” has been noted and re-noted and re-re-noted.
The third song, “Planer,” is free of melody and darn near free of structure, and it appears interminable until some vocals appear around the 5:30 mark. They don’t last long, but they are subdued and welcome in an otherwise snore of a tune. The closer to T O W E R, “Ornement,” is similar to “Sine” in its slow build and eventual minor change. The members of C H R I S T hail from such Quebecois acts as Ire, The Black Hand and Cobra Noir, so perhaps this provides a respite for them, but for the listener it merely provides 40 minutes of white noise.