The Instant – Notes and Errata

Newcastle has always struck me as the kind of place where, if you are not into surfing or a car enthusiast, you turn to music. You pick up the guitar, start noodling away, meet likeminded people and before you know it you’re in a band. That’s the easy part. Though things don’t always go to plan, either bands break up or frontmen seem to fall into their own personal black holes …

There has been a buzz for sometime over experimental rock, as it seems to be catching up with the masses and blending into the rock and indie mainstreams. Now something truly interesting has crawled out of the proverbial Newcastle woodwork, a post rock outfit called The Instant. Post rock doesn’t rely on short punchy songs or vocals for that matter (well, most of the time anyway). For those that aren’t familiar with post rock think instrumental, noodly-guitar based songs that often clock over five minutes and have all sorts of electronic gizmos a la vocoders and theremins on board for the ride. The Instant doesn’t rely on either, there’s no vocals at all and with their 8-track debut Notes and Errata clocking in at one hour it employs mainly drums, bass and guitar.

The Instant was born out of the ashes of two native Newcastle bands, namely Audiophile and Purplene. This local band released their impressive 2-track debut ep on Etch and Sketch Records on vinyl-only format in 2005 and it was safe to say that their first full-lengther would consist of the same high quality. For starters, Notes and Errata comes beautifully packaged, not dissimilar to Arcade Fire’s Funeral, in a thin cardboard-like sleeve with gold borders and lettering on a dark blue finish.

Opening track One With The Map sets the benchmark for the entire album, with the droning of guitars building up and eventually giving way to a solid slab of sinister guitar riffs and fluid bass lines. There’s an array of guitar effects and plenty of breakdowns over the course of the album, keeping the listener on seats’ edge over the whole mesmerising journey.

It’s refreshing to hear how diverse the guitars can be made to sound (thanks to noodlers Tim McPhee and Alex Niven and their healthy collection of effects pedals) whilst the bass (courtesy of Adam Jesson) pulses through the album as if it were a living thing. None of this is more apparent on the seven minute track Ginger Cat Runs where all strings are perfectly played out until the pin-point drumming (executed by Matt Rosetti) sets in.

Of the few distractions on this album it has to be that both tracks from the ep feature on here, namely A/B Movement and Drifting Westward. Those that own the EP might think it odd that there’s only six new tracks on the album, whereas new ears will be indifferent to it. That said, A/B Movement is one of the strongest tracks on the album with the gaining momentum of angst-fueled melodic guitar reaching the climax and playing out breathtakingly to the end.

Alphateam 107 starts off like an industrial buzz saw and sits in distortion for most of its duration whilst the wailing of overdriven guitar soars over the top, whilst closer The Landing fittingly takes proceedings a gear down as the slow track of the album.

If you want to explore musical pathways that doesn’t have the verse-chorus-verse formula then The Instant is a great place to start, for enthusiasts of challenging music this album will sit snugly in your collection. It has to be noted that not everyone has the patience to sit through an hour of instrumental music exploration, but once your mind gets opened you will find that Notes and Errata is one of the best albums to come out of this year. For a debut album The Instant couldn’t have done anything better.