We here at SOTO have just started what will be a tidal wave of SXSW coverage, but before I jump in that lake I need to highlight a band that wonít be at the festival - Imperial China. The three piece act is from Washington, DC, and they play whatís best described as experimental post-punk. There are elements of math rock, electronica, and some hardcore influences. Itís a mish-mash of styles that combine intensity and force to form a rhythmic attack that can't be ignored.
Imperial China has just released their third record,
How We Connect via Socket Records. After the
first two releases the group took a break and spent
extra time preparing the new album. They wanted to
focus more on the songwriting and make a full,
cohesive album and not "just a collection of songs."
They succeeded. Each track is a winner and every
time I listen I pick a new one to obsess over.
"Limbs" kicks things off, and as the video above
shows, it contains the fierce sonic intensity that
ImpChin is known for. I also really enjoyed "Redux,"
which is a reworking of a "Space Anthem" off their
Methods EP. Usually when a band does this
sort of thing I end up liking one version much
better than the other. In this case, theyíve made so
many alterations, while still maintaining the core
of the song, that both takes are excellent. Other
significant progressions on the record include a
greater emphasis on singing and less instrumental
tracks. On earlier releases singer Brianís Porterís
"throaty" vocals were the only weak spot for the
band. On How We Connect the vocals are a
major asset. Porter sings and chants but resists any
shouting and it all works perfectly with the music.