II by IAHRelease date: October 24, 2018
I was streaming tracks from the new All Them Witches album a few months ago when their algorithm chaps suggested I listen to something called IAH. Now you can say what you like about Youtube (other terrorist propaganda and funny cat video hosts are available) but they certainly seem to know their users. In the devil may care spirit for which I’m famously known I clicked on the link and well, to cut a long story short, here we all are.
What I heard that evening was the debut ep* by IAH, from 2017 and I enjoyed it so much I earmarked it for future purchase and shared the link with friends. As I dug deeper I was increasingly amazed at the reach not only of our new digital world, but of the musicians themselves. IAH are from Córdoba Capital, Argentina and play instrumental rock music, with elements of psych, doom and post metal. While these are all genres I’m familiar with it blows my mind that I ever got to heard this band all the way from South America, independently releasing their music out into the vast expanses of our musical universe. How many times have you clicked on a recommendation and played it for two minutes and then thought “Yes, it’s like a less interesting version of what I came online to hear” and then popped off to mix another martini?
To be honest, I’ve never been the biggest fan of instrumental rock music, I find a lot of it, which tends to dabble in post-whatever, can sound bloodless and restrained, whereas when IAH get heavy they do it unapologetically, which I think also makes their more contemplative and progressive passages more effective. So, it’s a winning blend of calming and crushing with many exciting switches in tone and pace to keep your ears alert, referencing many of the big hitters of the rock world.
The early tunes (‘El Silencio del Agua’ and ‘hh’) seem to these old ears to be a tad more restrained than the later ones, as if they want you to become comfortable with the general form before going for the throat and ears with their more metallic attack. Mauricio Condon on lead guitar does little in the way of showboat soloing, instead concentrating on mood-building picking and titanic, dirty riffing.
Things really get going from ‘Nihil Novum’ and while I would say the quieter passages of all songs are all linked by a similarity to Mono, this one’s particularly redolent of the Japanese masters.
Next up, ‘Nina del Rayo’ starts pensively with plucked guitar lines, but with a certain regularity of form like familiar journey before drums crash and fuzzier guitar riffs bring aggressive, unpredictable counterpoint. And so we head into further loud quiet passages, constantly evolving, as the distance between the two moods increases exponentially.
‘Pri’ has with pretty opening chords and floats along under shimmery percussion from José Landin and calm bass notes from Juan Pablo Lucco, before hitting a doomy mood and jagged, ominous Mastodon-esque chugs. However it also features gorgeous choppy, alt-rock riffs that remind me of Foals!
Closing number ‘Sheut’ highlights the wide array of influences the band possess with a bleak and crushing guitar tone reminiscent of Triptykon over confident jazzy drumming. It’s exactly the kind of unusual, inventive track music that makes you want to hit play again, to check out what else they strung together that you missed the first time.
I wouldn’t exactly say it’s instrumental rock for people who don’t like that sort of thing, but there is certainly enough great music here to make them stand out from the crowd, however they find their way to your attention.
*A vinyl edition of the EP has been released by Kozmik Artifaktz.