You May Die in the Desert is a three-piece, self-described as an "uplifting jazzy trio [that] combines chaotic guitar riffs with atmospheric layover techniques." With Bears in the Yukon, the group wastes no time with introductions. Within the opening twenty seconds, the openers melody is in full swing, showing you they are not the type of instrumental act that needs a craptastic six minute build-up before they hit an ephemeral note and meander away. Despite some similarities to the post-rock sound, You May Die in the Desert are primarily math rock. They play the kind of instrumental music that makes you zone out, but with hooky basslines that will keep your head bobbing. You May Die in the Desert don't conjure images of lava slowly cascading down the mountainside before an apocalyptic setting inevitably consumes everything to the tune of varied dynamics. They hypnotize with jaunty fretwork and time changes.
The title track is representative of the group's sound. In the eight minute song, the first five minutes follow a precise, mathy hook that get rather hypnotic and sleepy. They show definite post-rock influence without sounding formulaically genre. It's easy to quit paying attention until, around the five minute mark, the guitars adopt a louder rock approach that alters the mood. Not that the first five minutes of this song are one sequence of notes repeated ad nauseum, rather it gets repetitive over the coarse of the record. The song features song catchy, jazzy basslines and a sort of atmospheric sense to it that rivals post-rock without getting all gloomy.
The band is at their best when they keep things more energetic and faster paced, as in the latter part of "Bears in the Yukon" and in "Can I Get More Steel in my Monitors?" When they're not utilizing the more rock-orientated distortion, I find myself losing focus. After the title track peaks, they transition into album closer "Interlude (Jatsun Remix)" and I instantly switch off again. When the band tries to keep it more succinct, such as the 2:13 "Monorails," I'm intrigued by their sound. When it fleshes out over longer periods, it loses me. I hear similarities to Don Caballero or Hella, but I find You May Die in the Desert to be less compelling. Having just reviewed their split with Gifts from Enola, I have to conclude that I can only take this band in smaller doses.
5.9 / 10
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