(Din Din Records)
I can't say that you won't be disappointed: If the Aristotelian plotlines of Maple Stave's EP One suited your need for directed and driven mathematical post-rock capable of five-minute, terminus-to-terminus catharsis, the Brechtian stasis of EP Two may seem like a massive misdirection. While One's "Bird" lifts from pinging guitars and skittering drums to a clipping-and-clanging fury after the necessary guideposts have been built and burned, most of the material on Two suggests those same directions before snapping to a halt, climax cut short, denial by coitus interruptus.
But such disappointment is passing: EP Two is about restraint, teasing and eventual fulfillment, traits too often passed over in largely instrumental music by bands more interested in emotional glad-handing achieved through loud-to-louder shifts. Here, Maple Stave finds a mid-tempo and exploits it by ruining it, Evan Rowe's whipsmart drumming scuffing and pounding the surface, Andy Hull pushing hard on root notes.
Maple Stave's textural and compositional dexterity is suddenly marked by maturity (see the brilliant bass/drum melody and guitar accents on "Igloo"), and the band's intentions unfurl in eventual layers, Chris Williams' guitar playing spraying from his amplifier, proffering momentary glimpses before morphing into something apart. As on "Mystery," the band carefully shifts in Z-lines, crossing diagonals to run parallel paths, mining extremes for more than melodrama.
Williams sings on two songs, and his vocals on "Igloo" are more about texture than dogma. His voice only peaks to the fore on closer "Letters," howling "Everything here is so wrong" just as the band hurls itself into coda. Importantly, though, they creep back into it, allaying ostensible frustrations with an indifferent resurrection and resignation.
On EP One, Maple Stave sounded like a lot of bands. Those same referents--Shipping News, June of 44, Mogwai--still apply, but now they're starting to sound like something more important: themselves.
Maple Stave joins Calabi Yau and Fin Fang Foom at Duke Coffeehouse on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $8. Admission includes EP Two.