Self-recorded in a little church in Burnaby, BC, in contra.’s first full-length album, aptly titled little church, is a glorious mess of sound and colour. Ten years in the making, little church’s opening chords make it clear that this is a creation of friends; a result of endless hours of good times and unabashed experimentation with noise and genre.
Like the albums of many other post-rock bands before them, in contra.’s little church lacks conventional song structures. Every moment of beauty and repose is a knife’s edge away from an eruption of tense guitar noise and hammering drums. Every epic build could suddenly give way to a tender melody, an eerie banjo line, a cacophony of violins and percussive noise, or simply guitar feedback. Spanning an ambitious hour and 14 minutes, this is the perfect album for late-night walks home in the rain, soundtracking an alien invasion, or an intense apartment cleaning session.
While all eight songs blend together, there are definite standout moments on little church. The first half of “Guns of the Timberland” is an anthemic build reminiscent of Explosions in the Sky. “Byzantine Conduit” is appropriate amounts ominous post-rock, blissful slo-mo montage, and gratuitous drone. “Paul Newman (vs. Rodney Dangerfield)” is a beautiful journey through a snowy landscape of swirling guitar and driving bass. Interlaced with wafting horns, the culmination of sounds forms relentlessly into a gentle ruin.
What in contra. lacks in focus they make up for in sheer intensity and enthusiasm. The last decade of their musical tinkering has resulted in a piece of work that continues a legacy of Canadian post-rock. little church was built on foundations put in place by such legends as Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Do Make Say Think.