Album Review: “Cognoscere” from North End

Philadelphia instrumental rock band North End unleash their new 5 track EP “Cognoscere” today.  I say unleash rather than release because this record bolts right out of the gate and doesn’t let up until the last note.   There are no brooding atmospheres, euphoric crescendos, or long musical walkabouts here.   Whereas many post rock bands stop to smell the roses, as it were, North End opts for the high speed downhill slalom while the countryside goes by in a blur.  “Cognoscere” is a 20 minute thrill ride packed with swirling call and response guitar lines and frenetic, aerobic drumming and it will put a smile on your face once you catch your breath.

While “Cognoscere” might be loosely considered post rock and will appeal to fans of post rock, it is really more accurate to call it instrumental math rock.  And therein lies the method that goes with the madness.   It may be fast and fun, but look past the sheer rush of the music and there are well constructed complex progressions and precise disciplined playing.   If you have not experienced this style of music before, it is something like hearing people talking in an unfamiliar language.  Conversations sound unnaturally fast at first, but as one learns the vocabulary and grammatical constructs, the same conversations suddenly seem to slow down.  Of course, what changed was not the pace of the conversation, but the ability of the mind to assimilate it at the same speed at which which it is spoken.   In both cases, if one slows down the quick, natural flow, there is substance and structure.

I particularly enjoyed the opening track, ‘Miles Dyson’ which is full of hairpin turns, accelerating guitar lines, intricate drum patterns, and staccato double bass fills.  ‘Gabardine’ and ‘Test of Thyme’ have a slightly more airy, searching feel, but then the pedal goes to the floor for the title track to set up the expansive, and almost anthemic, closer ‘Warm Winter’.

Kudos to North End for bringing something fresh and exciting to the genre and delivering it with brio and skill.   You can find “Cognoscere” on North End’s Bandcamp page and while you are there, I recommend also checking out their Novmber 2011 release, “Atlantica”.

Cognoscere on Bandcamp

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