Welcome back to the Thinking Man! This week I’m pleased to share a band I just discovered, being Chicago’s very own Paper Hero. Their latest LP, Colorless Aquarium, is a wondrous blend of work that packs many surprises. What really sells this band is the intricacy of their song writing, and how it's all over the place. They'll establish a sense of feeling that the listener becomes comfortable with, just to suddenly introduce a drastically different element. At times this is jarring, but grows to take on its own special identity.
“Already Too Late” opens on dense guitar chords, shifting into a delicate trickling of bright tones. Clean singing hops in briefly as the song transitions into heavier riffs and screaming. “Detached” starts with a hypnotic rhythm; the guitar emits this colorful aura, the bass and drums exude a funky beat that keeps the pace upbeat and chill. There's a lot to enjoy throughout the album, for Paper Hero include a variety of emotion and sound into their work.
Guitarists Maru Martinez and Brycen Doby offer plenty of technicality to keep the song structure entertaining and unpredictable. Drummer Tristan Zemsteff and bassist Austin Ramsey demonstrate their ability to shift in tempo and rhythm at the drop of a dime. Giovanni Franceschi, along with Zemsteff and Ramsey, contribute to the vocal work, and provide an even balance of screams and singing. The entire band shows a tremendous ability to keep their chemistry fluid, adapting to numerous styles and transitions within one song.
Listeners will find that as the record progress, there comes an overall hypnotic theme that lures listener's into the work. The band do a superb job of keeping song structure in a fluctuating state, playing around with tempo and notation. The music takes on an improvisational jazz quality given the unpredictability. One moment the instrumentation lashes about, and then settles into a laid back and hip rhythm. Some of the tracks come with a strong Animals As Leaders vibe; such as how there are rapid adjustments to pace and notation, presenting erratic patterns throughout the material.
“Express” displays great a great balance between Paper Hero's heavier ambient elements. The midsection rises in tempo, unleashing riffs and battering drums. It's interesting how the band is able to shift so quickly from pure speed to restraint within seconds. “In Shambles” weaves in mesmerizing guitar notes that flutter about the progression. The rhythm is relaxing, the guitar including different uses of pitch and tempo. It's another side of what the band is capable of, using rhythm to weave fans into a mindful relaxation.
Paper Hero takes bold risks to present intricate song structure. Sometimes a sound will come in that isn't expected, but ends up working for the material. The band play by their own rules, creating their own identity through mesmerizing notation and chemistry. The music offers something for those who want to head bang, or who might want to even meditate. The music is sporadic in the best of ways given the surprises that pop up within tracks.
You can stream Colorless Aquarium below, and follow the band on Facebook here. Colorless Aquarium is a promising direction for Paper Hero (let’s hope a new record is on the horizon).