Generally speaking, it’s not difficult to describe an instrumental band. It is difficult, however, to describe Bay Area trio Covet’s latest release effloresce without sounding like a pretentious douche bag. This because many instrumental outfits are merely a showcase for one musician backed by a band who restrains themselves from ever stepping on the spotlight musicians toes. Granted, guitarist Yvette Young is what attracts most listeners. Her playing is phenomenal. Nevertheless, bassist David Adamiak and drummer Forrest Rice complete the sound with style and sophistication. What’s more, most would think that an instrumental, guitar driven band would come out with boring songs where sections are developed around obligatory guitar soloing. Throughout the six tracks on this release, there’s not a single guitar solo. And the songs are songs. Arrangements are structured, yet feel spontaneous. But, each track is an expression, a journey, and a single piece of music where all the musicians are unified in a single goal.
The songs on effloresce are hard to categorize. Sometimes touching on jazz, sometimes touching on progressive post-rock, but they don’t fit neatly into those categories. Opening track “Shibuya” glistens with Young’s fluid guitars and Rice’s understated, yet hard to ignore drumming. “Glimmer,” “Sea Dragon,” and “Gleam” follow in this manner, often with bassist Adamiak subtly tugging against Young’s two-handed tapping. Over the course of the listening experience, more layers emerge as you pick out each musicians respective parts and digest them together as a collective whole. The final two tracks, “Falkor” and “Howl,” put on display the full power of this trio. Unexpected tempo and chord changes are surprisingly coherent, when they could be jarring. An example of how you think you’ve got the band all figured out, then they slap you with an unanticipated moment that elevates the song just when you’ve settled into a groove. This is what makes these songs exciting. They challenge you, but not with a cacophony of noise or other unnecessary distractions.
You’ll be tempted to hear the first few notes and think this is nice, background music. But, if you dare turn it up, or better yet – listen with headphones – you’ll soon find yourself absorbed within its confines. Don’t let this release slide under your radar. It satisfies on all levels.
– J. Kevin Lynch