Cave: Threace Review
When a band releases one of your favorite records of the last few years, as Cave did with their outstanding Neverendless LP in 2011, it can leave the listener both excited for new material and questioning whether the group will have a chance to reach previous heights. With Threace, Cave both kept the thread that made them so good while expanding their sonic palette in a new direction. While it doesn’t knock me out like Neverendless did, Threace is a worthy follow up and another feather in the cap of this great Chicago group.
The front half of Threace (called Side C on the record) is two long songs that continue on what we have known and loved about Cave all along. Like glaciers, they move slowly but carry a great power. Toning down the organ, which in the past has been a centrifugal force of their music, the guitars are front and center on the first have of the LP. “Sweaty Fingers” & “Silver Headband” both hover around 10 minutes long and feature crunchy, fuzzed out riffs (former) and hypnotic noodling (later) that are some of the most rock-centric moments the band have had. Both have a post-rock feel of rolling down a hill crescendoing towards the point where the heavy chords come thundering out of the speaker.
On side two of the record the band take a slight left turn and bring in some new tools to their sound. Rob Frye joined the group, bringing along his tenor sax, flute and congos, instruments that add a certain spice to the last three songs of the LP. Filling in where the organ has in the past (and fuzzy guitars on side 1), having staccato-ed horns and flute flourishes add a more pyschedelic feel to the bands head-down-plow-forward krautrock material on tracks like “Arrow’s Myth.” At one point during the song, it sounds a bit like the listener is lost in the forest, stumbling through the mist and haze. It is more tranquil and wobbly than almost anything I have heard from the band, and the whole second half of the record is an interesting exploration of where there sound can go. “Shikaakwa” sounds the most like classic Cave and is a throbbing, organ driven track that mixes in some of the new pieces with their tried-and-true formula. The record closes with the low-key “Slow Bern,” which fades the listener out in a peaceful ambiance.
After a handful of great EPs and LPs, the band tried some new things on Threace, and as usual they succeeded. While it isn’t going to displace my copy of Neverendless (or there Hunt Like Devil/Jamz EPs), it is a worthy addition to the catalog. In a genre that if not done right can be monotonous and dry, Cave find ways to, with slight changes or quick interludes, to let your brain wander but to never lose the listener. Threace shows a powerful band who are firing on all cylinders, testing new areas and keeping the groove going in a way that few bands out there are at this point in time.
Writer / co-founder