Introducing: Jazzy experimental group Straya (EP release show Thursday!)
Genre chameleons Straya put out one of the best local releases with Healthy Steps last year. A strange mixture of Blood Brothers and Herbie Hancock, these 11 tracks could almost topple under the weight of influence and ingenuity.
That being said, the band remain graceful with the balancing act. The mathy buildups always come to a human climax or comedown on songs like “Comma Spaceman,” and the tenacity in a lot of the playing always holds up over pretty, often Rhodes tones from keyboardist Mark Engelmann.
If the mixture sounds confusing, that’s because it is; and steadfastly so on the new two-track EP, I Don’t Know What Anyone Is Talking About Anymore. This title grounds Straya even though more layers of jazz experimentation have arrived on the instrumental “Custom Tower.” The syncopated passages are a rabbit hole into emotional territory that’s difficult for listeners, and likely the band themselves, to navigate. A strange and alluring parallel has been drawn between performer and audience.
The synth tones on the sprawling “For Me Personally” take on a more digital and sparse mood. When the full band enters, there aren’t many overtones floating around the EQ curve. This lends an ominous feel to the song that only deepens over guitar drones and layered polyphony. At three and a half minutes, we have some words that quell the mood before bassist/vocalist Sanjeev Mishra screams, hardcore punk style, for a few lines over the original melody that opened the track. It’s all darkness here, but Straya get away with it with flying colors.
Straya are well known for their live shows, in the house and club circuit, and are having a release party for the EP at the Kitty Cat Klub on Thursday January 21st
— Michael Cyrs, @mjcyrs
Writer / co-founder