Music is at it’s best when it is crossing borders, when it is free to sample the sonic delights of any number of genres and then forge those sounds and ideas into something new, appealing and unique. Genres have a way of focusing the musical mind too narrowly, of suggesting that their are rules and limitations, specifications that you must adhere too and conversely places that you can’t go. But what if you ignored all of those silly notions? What if you allowed yourself to be influenced by everything and anything? What if you recognised that it’s all about juggling various sounds and styles so that you can craft music which is truly exploratory, forward-thinking, brave and broad-minded. Imagine that?
Actually, you don’t have to imagine that as what I have described is the attitude and methodology which The Golden Cage Society employ when fashioning their glorious music. And Mira, a two-track mini e.p. is their latest release. Two tracks! Yes, but to be honest they manage to fit more into those two tracks than most bands can get on a whole album.
The lead track, Mira El Mar can rightly be called a sonic journey. That might seem a bit of a pretentious description but sometimes music of such scope as this demands such heightened descriptions. Growing out of Spanish acoustic guitar sweetness it soon finds a rock groove but it is a song which is all about dynamics and manages to meander between deftly picked minimalism to bombastic operatic heights as the narrative weaves its way through the proceedings. It leans towards slightly progressive attitudes but abandon all thoughts of extended solos and keyboard players dressed as wizards, thankfully those days are long gone and even progressive music has…well, progressed. And what keeps things on track is the other elements that they draw around them. Intelligent rock? Pop-rock with a PHD? Who knows? Who cares what you call it?
Mira El Mar isn’t short on pop accessibility, it is melodic, intriguing and clever enough to sustain the listeners intrigue over seven and a half minutes. As always having an accompanying video helps drive the narrative but the story remains suitably opaque so that the listener, and indeed the watcher, is free to bring their own meaning to it.
Howls comes in at a slightly more modest five and a half minutes but again that is enough time to explore plenty of musical avenues. Gregorian chant-like vocals, dexterous bass runs and chiming, staccato blasts of guitar make for a great opening salvo but again the song is all about texture and change and it wanders neatly between restraint and understatement and punch and power.
It’s difficult to say who they sound like, which is always a good sign. They seem to approach their craft in a way reminiscent of Rush, pushing rock music so far that before you realise it you are far from its familiar territory. They understand that to make an impact you first have to make space. They dance deftly with dynamic changes. They can make a single note sound like the most intense sonic full stop and they can escalate to sky-scrapping musical mountains when they need to.
It only makes you wonder that having fitted so much into these two tracks, having set the benchmark so high, where they can take things next. Who knows, but I for one can’t wait to find out.