Weird things tend to happen when prog rock meets art rock. Thus is the case with The Ever Constant Sea, a nautically themed Louisville quartet that counters its penchant for off-time signatures and high-neck guitar work with a ham hand of shoegazing and the delicate-like-icicles stamp of the “art” side of rock music. It’s a pleasing mixture when done in proper proportions, but it can get damn ugly when not.
The band — Dave Wright, Jason Elder, Pat Gossman and Sean Roberts — strike a fine balance with Save Our Ship, a 10-song collection that punishes as it percolates. It’s never too loud for too long, never quiet or slow enough to disengage or defer interest, the Achilles’ Heel of far too much instrumental music that would otherwise be pleasing if it didn’t waste time with repetition.
Worth particular note is “Sensitive Guys Are Problematic,” a slow climber that starts out really sounding like Rodan, which is not a bad thing. The song builds only to erupt into a heavily distorted rocker anchored by Elder’s fuzzed out bass. What happens next is microcosmic proof of this record’s value: The band reels it in, turning over a delicate side with electro drums and a moderately-paced guitar-bass bit focused more on groove than artistic sensibility.
When you can mess with time signatures and keep it both pretty and rockin’ without too much pretentiousness, you’ve mastered the balance. The Ever Constant Sea is approaching at speed.
LEO: If you were Mayor, what would you do to help promote people like you in this city?
Band: We would create a committee, or better yet a task force, to promote musical awareness and diversity in the city. We remember going to shows and seeing five completely different bands, not five bands that sound exactly the same. This has become an unwanted trend in recent years. Seeing lots of different people and hearing different styles of music make our scene great. We have lots of resources in the city we need to utilize. Forget trying to open another all-ages venue, we have one of the best public parks systems in the country. Our Louisville Music Task Force will work with bands and promoters to set up more free concerts similar to Forecastle, but on a smaller scale with more frequent events. Huge events like Forecastle are great, but we need consistency. We need places where people can come because they know there will be a show every week. If we use our public spaces, we should be able to accomplish this using the multiple public stages around town. Metroschifter and Hedge played in Jefferson Square; Braid and Aasee Lake played at Big Rock; bands could play at Central Park, Iroquois Park or the skate park.
LEO: Which Louisville musician needs to get more attention?
Dave Wright: Linyasso. We saw them with Shipping News a few years back, and I’ve been searching for them ever since.
Pat Gossman: Vrktm. It’s a great all-star band, and their singer can really dance.
Jason Elder: Panda. These guys are gonna be tearing up the Louisville scene very soon.
Sean Roberts: Teen Pregnancy! I really love the songs I’ve heard, but I never hear anything around town about them.
LEO: If music were food, what kind would yours be?
DW: Ramsi’s Jamaican jerk chicken sandwich and a side of plantains. Spicy and sweet goodness!
PG: “The Dagwood” from Penn Station. It’s whatever you want.
JE: Soylent Green and Caffeine-Free Diet Mountain Dew. Savor the flavor.
SR: Naan Bread with Mango Chutney … mmm … Mango Chutney.
LEO: Tell me about one of your favorite works of art outside your medium.
DW: I like “Travels with Charlie” by John Steinbeck because it inspired me to travel the country from coast to coast.
SR: I’m a fan of “Death and Life” by Gustav Klimt. It’s really pretty and very creepy at the same time.
LEO: What do you want to say that you know you shouldn’t?
JE: The best work is done at the last minute.
DW: Nautical star tattoos are so cool! I wish more people had them!
PG: I know I should keep my mouth shut.
BY STEPHEN GEORGE