Words: Jordan Gorsuch
Infinite Me (Minneapolis, Minnesota) & Awe Howler (Johnsburg, Illinois) have combined their talents and have delivered a monumental split EP. Emo is a genre that can be easily maligned, its heart-on-your-sleeve style can be alienating to some listeners. However, these bands cleverly introduce poetic, sometimes even cryptic lines while discovering an emotional hardline. Their sounds are muddy, dreary, and have a palpable running energy throughout each of their tracks. This is not emo in the conventional sense, these bands aren’t afraid to find beauty in the cacophony of noise.
I spoke to Colby (guitarist for Infinite Me) about how the idea came to fruition for the split:
We met those dudes a year ago in Johnsburg, Illinois when we got to play together for the first time. Everyone in our band was blown away at how talented and how composed they were as a band and we admired them for that for a long time, and we still do. Infinite Me wanted to do something “smaller” after our EP came out in last February and I had the idea of reaching out to those guys because they were on a similar time line. Me and Ryan (their guitar player) did a lot of chatting during this process and it was nice to know that the band we were putting this record out with was a like-minded and talented one.
Awe Howler’s half of the EP is decidedly murkier than Infinite Me’s side. The last track features a segment that even sounds brutal. Their tracks utilize fantastic panning and great dynamics. Coming from their previous full-length “Living with Spiders” the band is stepping out of their comfort zone vocally; jumping from high registers to uncomfortable lows. “Pale Green” possesses a Cobain sneer, and has heavy grunge-influenced guitars and sharp drums. It sounds unstable.
I had the chance to ask Awe Howler about how they approached the conception of these tracks:
This split was a lot of sitting around and scratching our heads. Ryan (lead guitar) laid out the theme for Pale Green and, for the first time, Josh (drums) tabbed out a song for us (“Back to Branson”). We’ve never done that before, and that’s sort of how songs seem to happen for us; It’s usually something we’ve never tried. Lyrically, the songs are about a trip I (Jeff) took back in June. I left in my car alone and drove through a greater part of the country with barely any money in my pocket…I made a few risky decisions on the road and really only got a few hours of sleep for the entire week, so I came home with some crazy stories to tell and a cloudy mind full of words.
Awe Howler simply sounds bigger and bolder on this release. “Back to Branson” is the stand-out track from the split. “Sometimes things are better done alone,” loneliness is a conceit of these two songs, it is sometimes needed. However, driving alone at night in unfamiliar places can make the mind wander to places you’d never suspect. Within the song itself, there’s a nice shift from the almost operatic deliveries found throughout the songs, spoken word delivery along with some nice palm-muted strums. Dangerous and paranoid sounds emanate from the instruments, the guitar picking segment bleeding into the all-out screaming in the conclusion of the song is breathtaking.
Jeff from Awe Howler commented on the shift in style from their last releases:
Stylistically, for us at least, it just seems like we’ve fallen further down the rabbit hole we discovered with “Living with Spiders.” We’ve gradually grown louder and noisier. Subject matter and the emotion tied to it is always going to change. The only thing we’ve consistently built on without changing direction is how raw and disgusting we can make everything sound, and how much of a bummer our tunes are.
Infinite Me’s half of the EP sounds more organic and sterile comparatively. The songs have a more spectral quality to them. The reverbed guitars almost sound like organs at certain parts, leading to some of the more conventional “pretty” moments on the EP. Metaphorically, vocalist Deano Erickson compares himself to a seed that grows in dry gravel, a plant that the sun cannot reach on the track “Glass Houses.” There are some interesting vocal deliveries and effective use of double vocals. The drums are one of the strongest points of these songs, going much further than the usual precedence of a rhythm section. The drums are mixed high, and speak just as much for the band as Erickson does. There’s a great moment of casualness found at the end “Glass Houses,” where the band allows the listener to hear them turning off/on their various effect pedals and set up for their next track.
Colby detailed exactly how the band prepared for the split:
The cool thing about the 2 songs on our end of the split is that they were the first songs infinite me has written with its current line-up…These songs are the freshest and most honest representation of our band to date, and getting to record them live as a full band as opposed to tracking each instrument separately gives the songs a really sincere tone. It’s easy to record songs part by part with each instrument isolated and then fix all the little mistakes and inconsistencies but when you do it live, you can’t edit things out and fix those inconsistencies because it throws off the entire dynamic of the performance. We even took it as far as to record one song into the next song without stopping the recording so we can give the songs a really live sense of flow and also to feel like they belonged together on a record.
“Loathe” is one of the best songs Infinite Me has produced, a track that captures everything great about the band distilled in four jam-packed minutes. The opening riff is beautiful, and bleeds effectively into the rest of the song. The guitar passages and bass lines are superb and the vocals are sterling, showcasing a wide range of techniques and delivery. “You can never see how far off the mark I’ve grown to be,” Erickson reveals on “Loathe.” Sonically, however, Infinite Me has assuredly hit the mark.
The 4-track split EP can be downloaded from bandcamp for free.