Their music is no hybrid of genres. Their music is a synthesis of its parts without becoming an amalgam of these parts as a whole
Listed “Post Triassic” for a genre on the band’s Facebook page, Bateleur released their first full-length album in December of 2016. Seven years after the start of that very Facebook page, and this album is claimed to be their last one too. Sadly so, because just under the very surface layer of the album, one finds the crafting and presenting of this 8 track record to be a total artistic expression in itself; with a short film for their song ‘Mendota Sky’ and their unique, exciting album launch from The Nest, an opportunity for fans to download the album for free from a Raspberry Pi convincingly disguised in a faux rock atop Table Mountain.
The album is now available on Bandcamp, tagged with more specific clues as to what their music might sound like. I was excited to hear them for the first time, expecting this hybrid of “experimental, euphoric, instrumental, post rock, nujazz”. But nothing quite got my inner abacus going as the tag Math rock; a turning point in my anticipation function. Headed out on a coastal road trip, in true 2009 fashion, I burnt an mp3 CD of the album and cut my padkos sandwiches into little triangles.
It’s 5am and I’m on the road. I press play. The first track, ‘Chiaro’, greets me with an enticing piano pattern accompanied by occasional synth sounds and electronic beats keeping rhythm. After a minute of being lured into this new world of interesting sound combinations, the piano suddenly blooms into friendly, acoustic guitar and for the first time, I taste what would soon grow into the most exquisite combination of genres and their sounds that make up this entire album. I’m really, really liking this. And it’s only just the beginning.
As the album progresses, its distinct element of nu jazz progresses along with it. An unexpected orchestral element presents itself in all the right places, always fading before it might grow excessive and then reappearing to aid or maintain building atmosphere. ‘Mendota Sky’ was revered by many people commenting on the album, so I couldn’t help but harbour light feelings of anticipation and expectation for the track. It did not disappoint.
‘Mendota Sky’ is the quintessential part of this album in what it does for the album as a whole. I like to think of this track as the strongest element of what might be dubbed as “post rock” in this album. Much like a sine wave, the track oscillates between crescendos and diminuendos, with its crests and troughs uniquely characterized by continually changing timbres and textures of electric guitar.
In listening to the album over and over, I came to see ‘Mendota Sky’ as the very example of this genre that Bateleur has so artistically crafted. Their music is no hybrid of genres. Their music is a synthesis of its parts without becoming an amalgam of these parts as a whole. Its core elements of experiential, euphoric, post rock and nu jazz interact with and complement one another, whilst remaining tastefully distinct in their traditional sound and independent of one another throughout the whole album.
Then suddenly, there shines a shining turn, in the middle of this album. The track, ‘Over (Again)’, reintroduces the Bateleurian sound with a prominent focus on electronic rhythms and an unexpected touch of what sounds like a hang drum, which is later accompanied by jazz elements that you would expect to find on a street corner with some French café. Just as your ears adjust to this new change in audio stimulation, the song takes a right angle of its own once again and there is a change in tempo, accompanied by the dreamy vocals so sparingly used across the whole album. Whatever this is, this is working. And it is working well.
Perhaps I am reading too deeply into it, but I contend the pseudo-genre name of Post-Triassic. Much like a Jurassic Pangaea, the unique elements of different genres are separated blocks of land that Bateleur manages to stitch together through their artistic sound. I most enjoyed listening to this album during late night hours of driving, where quiet roads are flooded by orange street lamps and luminous traffic lights grow blurry, bored of their repetitive day job. Though admittedly, when the closing track, ‘Seaverb’, opened with the sound of lightly treading footsteps that break into a run, I couldn’t help but excessively glance at my rearview mirror.
Slenderman was a thing.
Written by Emer M. Butler