REVIEW: Jakub Tirco – Alaska

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In this day and age, especially with this mileage of mine, it does not happen very often that a random independent artist that I stumble upon by accident manages to pull me into a space-time eddy where time grinds to a complete halt for the duration of the music. Although I hope I have not yet turned into that person who stands by the mixing console at the venue, with arms crossed, when the whatsisname local outfit warms the stage for the main treat, mumbling under his breath how he has heard that all before, I must admit that it is pretty hard to blow my mind to smithereens anymore. Listening once through the independent debut full-length, “Alaska,” released in July 2022 by the one-man powerhouse of instrumental prog and post-rock mayhem, Jakub Tirco, it happened. Hailing from Prague, Czech Republic, this up-and-coming guitar prodigy rolls out on his debut full-length: a feast of dreamlike, atmospheric soundscapes á la David Maxim Micic, wistfully swelling post-rock crescendos of the GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT variety, and off-kilter rhythms of progressive metal in the spirit of PLINI and SCALE THE SUMMIT.

The album opener, “Aubede,” sets things in motion by invoking a somewhat VOLA-like atmosphere. What sets the track apart, of course, is the fact that the song is thoroughly instrumental. Some of the melodies traverse in an almost pop-friendly terrain while juxtaposed against a backdrop of progressive oddball meters in a manner that we have been accustomed to with listening to those majestic Danish proggers. It is hard to imagine a better way to open a debut album, I’d say, and things are soon about to get even better…

Next up, “The End of All Things” is one of the absolute standout tracks in the selection. The song features Baard Kolstad of LEPROUS on drums and Martin Mito Samuely on bass. The swinging triplet rhythms make the song come off especially groovy, like an enchanted prog waltz. Further into the song, I sense a subtle Mediterranian vibe radiating through the licks and it’s somewhat reminiscent of “Teeth of Hydra” on Steve Vai‘s latest brilliantly exciting solo album. Needless to say, Baard‘s diabolically awesome drum-chops sound as stratospherically sublime as ever. The highly imaginative stop-and-go riffing is excellent by and large on the outing, but on this track, especially, they hit some G-spot in the ear.

I assume this album has not been released in physical formats as of yet, at least. It is such a bummer! The thing is, by the third track, I was going to put this progressive gem onto my wishlist for Santa Claus. Namely, bearing nothing short of a baffling title, the third track, “Cocaine Lipstick,” unfolds as a haunting post-rock soundscape that evolves, undulating between 7/8 and 9/8 (as far as I could discern with my differential math skills). The swelling instrumental crescendos resonate with the air of GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT in the most haunting and spine-tingling fashion you could possibly imagine. Yes, there are no two questions about it: this is one of those “Shut up and take my money!” efforts! On the same note, this is exactly the kind of music that I would very much enjoy seeing performed live (hint, hint!).

The artist profile on Bandcamp states, “This artist profile is slowly being filled with moody progressive headphone music.” I couldn’t put it in any way better: in order to get the full flavor, all those lovely, atmospheric nuances, it is best to listen to the album on headphones. The rest of the album comes jam-packed with plenty of subtle nuances that tickle the ear, ranging from the occasional TESSERACT vibes of “Mixed Signals” to the almost meditative mood of “Saudede,” featuring Michal Worek on piano. “Moderation,” in turn, could almost be from Devin Townsend‘s songbook of late although, obviously, with a tad more guitar shredding.

The last third of the album further builds momentum with a somewhat pronounced PLINI-like aesthetic before, in the coda of “Hiraeth,” the sound of the ocean brings the journey to a close. For a debut, this offering is a spectacularly solid entry into the somewhat over-saturated realm of instrumental guitar madness. Mark my words, this kid is going places!

Written by Jani Lehtinen

Tracklist

  1. Aubede
  2. The End of All Things (feat. Baard Kolstad)
  3. Cocaine Lipstick
  4. Mixed Signals
  5. Saudede
  6. Moderation
  7. Horizontals
  8. Nocturne
  9. Hiraeth

Lineup

Jakub Tirco – guitars, bass, life, the universe, and everything

Baard Kolstad – drums on “The End of All Things”

Martin Mito Samuely – bass on ”The End of All Things”

Gregor Chalupecky – trombones in tracks “Aubade,” “Mixed Signals,” and “Horizontals”

Michal Worek – piano on “Saudade”

Label

Independent

Links

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Bandcamp