Bradford’s Lost Ground rather vaguely describe themselves as ‘too heavy for an indie gig and too soft for a hardcore gig’. It’s difficult to summarise their sound any other way, and although the tags emo and math rock seem to be frequently attached to the trio, neither are fully satisfactory. The latter in particular carries such a degree of ambiguity that it is scarcely come across today, disavowed by the bands it once sought to define.
Associating mathematics to music of any kind is certainly misleading and somewhat insulting. This is an art form; worlds away from the formulae and equations and rules of science. What Lost Ground achieve on ‘Absent’ emphatically supports this – their absorbing and unpredictable soundscapes ensnaring the listener, taking them on a majestically minimalistic journey.
Vocals are scarce and sparingly used, conventional song structure abandoned in favour of constantly changing time-signatures that somehow captivate and elude at once. Despite this, the opening passages of ‘Ghost’ and ‘Holier Than Thou’ niggle away at the subconscious, as only the most subtle and lasting of hooks do. ‘We could be on top of the world’ ponders Lew Taylor on the former, evidently aware of his band’s considerable potential and talent.
Fans of American Football and TTNG will recognise the twiddling, cleanly aesthetic guitar intricacies – at times ghostly, at times creating a wall of sound with one effects pedal. Those acquainted with the magic of early Biffy Clyro will have their imagination captured through Jamar Akbar’s rhythmic mastery, and the jarring, heavy section of ‘Lumiere’.
The shortness of ‘Absent’ is both its strength and weakness. The standard is so high throughout, four tracks feels like a mere teaser. Yet the decision to keep all songs, bar the closing ‘Limestone’, to under four minutes is the real masterstroke. Lost Ground seem acutely aware of the importance of condensing this kind of ingenuity, and breaking it down into – very tasty – bitesize chunks. Impressive.
‘Absent’ by Lost Ground is released on 25th February on Bad Owl Presents… / Sunbird Records.
Words by Peter Stewart (@PeteStew_)