“DA, t’da-da, da-da da da-da da da da … da, daaa, da”
Elephant Gym have only been going a couple of years, but have amassed a significant following in their native Taiwan and abroad. Their clean, melodic tunes sit comfortably in the niche between post-rock and math-rock carved out in recent years by bands like Toe and Enemies. Chia-Chin (drums) lays the groundwork upon which siblings Tif (bass) and Tell (guitar) weave smooth lines between each other, creating a rich, layered and optimistic sound that would be the envy of many bands.
“DAA da, da-da daa da, da-da daaa, oooh”
But that’s only half of the story of Angle. The other half is one of tremendous versatility. In ‘青蛙’, the bass guitar wanders over dissonant guitar in a way reminiscent of LITE; there’s Mouse On The Keys-esque jazz piano in ‘身體’; a sweet staccato vocal in ‘燈’; melodic pop in ‘白日’, and even some traditional (I assume) Taiwanese folk in the closer. These influences are various but are always well-integrated and never forced. Likewise, rather than being disorientating, the time signature shifts work to compliment the melody throughout. The melody is what controls Elephant Gym – the melody has agency – and so it comes as no surprise that the most mathy section of the album – a stop-start unison in the middle of ‘鳥鳴’ – is the build-up to arguably the best piece of melody on the album.
Get yourself a copy of the album, and while you’re at it, play along to it with the Elephant Gym Angle Game on their website. I managed 2300 with a mousepad (hint: don’t click the grey circles).