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Complexity as it applies to song writing can be a slippery slope. Come in too light on the simplicity scale and people miss the point as your music leaves the listener unfulfilled with its hollow, empty sound. Come in too complicated and you end up with a jumbled mess of noise. But if you can get the sound dialed in and deliver it with just the right mixture of familiar, new, and unique; you enter the realm that rock songwriting legends are made of. “Heading East” by District Somnium leaves your speakers damn close to that level of perfection.
The Chicago Rock quintet are onto something with “Heading East”, their five song EP that released last September. They’ve assembled a well crafted barrage of sound packed with a depth and complexity that is seldom seen from the emerging Rock ranks. It's evident from the start as a multitude of blended instruments accompany the swanky, almost Latin rhythm on “Swamp”. District Somnium boldly opens their EP with a plethora of attention getting percussion sounds and bellowing vocals. This exotic trek quickly builds into an imposing, assaulting guitar riff that takes the song to a whole other level. The best way to describe “Swamp” would be to compare it to a more subdued version of The Mars Volta without the incomprehensible screaming. There is so much sound going on within the song that is so perfectly blended together that it’s almost impossible to pick it all out (Aside from the perfectly tempered guitar solo that closes out the track). Without question, “Swamp” is on another plane from anything I’ve heard in a long time. If this opening track doesn’t captivate you into wanting to explore the rest of “Heading East”, just download some audio books for your iPod because apparently music isn’t your thing.
DS continues their journey of intricate sounds with an upbeat start on “Little One”. Entering with an energetic beat, District Somnium asks “So who can tell me what its like to live free? Absolutely no one ya see”. Add in a few horns after the chorus to again push the complexity scale up with some keen attention to sonic detail, and you’re left with a memorable two and half minute song. Equally intriguing is the edgier track “Vagabond”. Showcasing some fantastic vocal harmonies, “Vagabond” throws caution to the wind musically as the lyrics are busy telling the same story. The song is packed with time changes that shift like the breeze ensuring that the song ends up far from where you thought it would, especially as the last ‘Oh Vagabond!” is cried out. Nothing that District Somnium does is down the easy road or what you expected, but the results exceed anything you could have seen coming.
“Across the Pond” is the lightest fare you’ll find on the EP. I found that this song felt appropriately scaled back from the intricacies of a few of the earlier tracks. For me this left the lyric “Everything I've lost is everything I've gained’’ to be a revealing formula for the musical direction of the song. There is an art to knowing when to push the envelope and when to scale it back. “Across the Pond” appropriately resides in the latter. Outside of some skilled drum work and a few ambient, mellow guitar tones, this song is simple and refined.
“Mustache On Purpose” closes out the EP with a beat and vocal harmony in the chorus that reminded me of something off of “The Joshua Tree”. The track is a reflection on another time, a passion filled rehashing of past transgressions that winds down with one last taste of the instrumental complexity that opened “Heading East”.
“Heading East” isn’t what you think of when you think of music from emerging rock artists. It is written, polished, mixed, and produced at a level that few bands can achieve at the composing level. There are a lot of great undiscovered musicians out there, but musicians and bands with the ability to construct this type of sound and apply it in the precise fashion that District Somnium has are few and far between.
Click to hear District Somnium on Rocksposure Radio
As the Webmaster and Founder of Rocksposure.com, Chris Brach is always looking for new music from up and coming rock bands. You never know, they could be our next Artist of the Month! If there is something you think he should give a listen to, email him at GetRocked@Rocksposure.com