There is something inherently mystical about Nam Shub, a B.C.-area band who have just released their debut album. “Nam shub” in mythology refers to a Sumerian god, and it could not be a more fitting name for this band.
Though Cascadia is only six songs long, this is not an EP. In total, the album is over forty minutes long, so some very long songs can be heard here. Post-rock as a genre always seems to lend itself to extended tracks, and Nam Shub are no exception.
The first two tracks, aka the first sixteen minutes of the album, provide basically an introduction. “Original Wizards” starts the album off with guitar alongside a background of static. Soon some beeps can be heard intermittently, and the at-first-slow guitar becomes a little faster. Some highly-reverbed vocals can be heard here, though they’re mainly indistinguishable, acting more like another instrument, and it works.
The next song “Perfect Toque Weather” (which proves undoubtedly that the band has some Canadian pride despite the other-worldly influences) kicks things up a little. The percussion sounds are a lot more interesting this time around, and the guitar is a little more steady. The intermittent beeps of electronics give the song overall a very spacey atmosphere.
Things really begin to pick up from the third song onward. “Marble Cardigan” comes next, kicking it up several notches with a much faster tempo, showing that the band isn’t limited to a calm atmosphere at all. “Geo-stationary Eye” is another fairly long song, but it stands out due to the great atmosphere generated by the percussion.
At four minutes, “Orbit” is the shortest song on the album and also one of the best. This isn’t to say that the band necessarily needs to make shorter songs to sound better; the makeup of the song is what makes the song so good. The electronic sounds are much prettier-sounding (for lack of a better word), and the song also uses a variety of samples, such as a clip of someone describing radio as a medium, as well as samples of dogs barking.
Finally there’s “Larping” which brings the album to a fairly triumphant close. It’s a slower-paced and more melodic piece which features vocals more heavily this time around. While previously the vocals were hard to understand, here they are much clearer and serve to make the energy of the song even more intense. Toward the end the phrase “Yeah, we’ll bring it down” is repeated several times to bring the album to an end on a high note.
Talking about Cascadia is sort of difficult due to the complexity of the music, but it’s certainly an album that needs to be heard in its entirety. Just listening to one song won’t help you understand what the band is doing. But I can say that if they continue making music like the last two thirds of the album, they’ve got an interesting future ahead of them.
Cascadia is now available through Bandcamp.
Top Tracks: “Geo-Stationary Eye”; “Orbit”
Rating: Strong Hoot (Good)