CD, Sona Records, 2006
A self-described “experimental, progressive rock unit,” 24hourflu falls in stride with what is best described as post-rock, a genre comprised of a global collection of bands that, though geographically diverse, all produce the climactic highs and quiet lows typical of their collective apocalyptic tagline. What differentiates 24hourflu from most of their post-rock brethren is a tense unpredictability. Rather than take the formulaic guitar/bass/drums template at face value, producing epic crescendos of layered feedback interwoven with extended sections of soft, melodic deliberation, they instead subvert it with a twist of punk nihilism. Their version continues the traditional post-rock dialogue by creating juxtapositions of sonic beauty and dread, noise-heavy assaults, languid harmonies, and an emphasis on solemnity mixed with discord. Yet 24hourflu also establishes a willingness to challenge the listener’s expectations.
“Hole Receiver,” the first track on the self-titled album, unhinges the idiom with the injection of abrasive, screaming vocals that, six minutes after it begins, cut through the carefully constructed instrumentation like a chainsaw. Foreshadowed by rough guitar work that arises early in the built-up layering of the track, the vocals constitute an element of reflection, permitting the sporadic chaos offered by discordant and unruly instruments a counterpoint. However, listening to angst-ridden screams as they resurface in songs like “20/20” or “Crow,” it is apparent that they provide no anchor to the guitar-driven, plucked melodies, the piano chords or the distorted violin harmonies found alongside. Like the oft-distorted samples heavily scattered through the album (an element that lasts the duration of “Monotonous”) the vocals of 24hourflu seem to be just another fragmentation in their tempestuous sound collages.
Included in this mix of instruments, electronics and human babble are transformative passages, moments of calculation and restraint, and more austere instances of confusion and flux. At almost fourteen minutes, “Reaper” is the longest piece on 24hourflu, and is probably the best example of what the band is capable, in terms of strictly post-rock metamorphoses. But due to the tension apparent between its fragmentary tendencies, frenzied vocals (or terror-inducing screams, in the case of “A. Srimm”), and contemplative music, 24hourflu mostly only succeeds in creating disorientation and violence. Just how effective this may be from the standpoint of listenability remains questionable.
— Dutton Hauhart