Grails: Dark World Grooves

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Grails on tour

Grails, World's End Girlfriend, and Mono comprised a fantastic triple bill at Charlottesville's Satellite Ballroom May 13th. All acts were affiliated with (or deeply involved with) either Human Highway Records of Japan and/or the Temporary Residence label out of Brooklyn. It was a highly anticipated night of epic music delivered without words. Grails performed first and will be the focus of this feature.

Grails summon dark and fantastical instrumental sounds. Imagine sitting on a floor in Benares, bhang lassi in hand, as the sun rises over the Ganga. This is your soundtrack. You wander outside not knowing why and the monkey that stole your laundry yesterday is today handing out opium cookies. You descend the stairs and gravitate towards the ghats as the crumbs of your cookie are happily consumed by children and urban buffalo. You board a rowboat with a baba who invites you for

chai in the bamboo grove on the other side of the river. His rowing begins slowly and builds rhythmically until the meeting of the oars and water begins to sound like a krautrock drum beat. The melodies heighten also as the cookie and lassi meet in your intestines. On the opposite bank of the river, priests ring and shake bells with handles and in strands, invoking Kali and light candle after candle sending them downstream on miniature boats made of banana leaf.

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Grails are food for the imagination, infusing their unique variety of wordless jams with mystical contexts and omin

ous overtones. They glean the cosmic essence of world music and discard the "Starbucks compilation" vibes, fusing what's left with soaring guitar riffs and driving beats. Grails resides not in Benares rather in Portland, Oregon and likely imbibe Stumptown coffee rather than bhang lassis for inspiration. One wonders how such kind well-mannered American lads conjure such otherworldly sounds. Apparently it's just how their sounds manifest naturally. To see them perform at the Satellite Ballroom in Charlottesville, Virginia was to see an impassioned yet certainly not strained delivery of some truly ethereal rock music. Grails have two gifted drummers, who switch in and out on various live tracks, sometimes with one playing guitar instead (or the other shaking a giant gourd or working in some other supplementing percussion). The bass, guitars and keys also get passed around the stage throughout the evenings performance giving each song a slightly different perspective, while maintaining an excellent continuity. Grails are Zak Riles, Emil Amos, William Slater, Alex Hall, Ben Nugent. It should be duly noted that Ben had an injury to his wrist and did much less drumming for this show than usual. It was a stellar show nevertheless and a testament to the adaptability of a great band.

Grails Website

Grails on myspace

Grails on Temporary Residence


Grails on Neurot Recordings


Grails on Robotic Empire


Grails on Important Records


Grails on Southern's Latitudes Imprint

text and audio recording by Matthew Clark

photo from Grails website

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