Hearing Aide: Chromaticam ‘Chromaticam’

Once upon a time in Rochester, some teenagers started a ska band. Then they evolved into a rock band. Their third iteration was the pop punk band, Lighters. Two years ago, they went on hiatus. Fans have held their breath, waiting to for their next project. That day has finally come.

Chromaticam is not ska. It’s not rock n roll. It’s not punk. Band members Matthias Galley and Will Westveer have veered off the beaten path. They’ve thrown out the idea of fitting their sound into the confines of a single genre. They also threw out the idea of adding lyrics.

In an age when we are barraged with verbal clutter, instrumental music has become the calm inside the storm, a refuge for the weary listener. “Aqueduct” is a perfect example of this. In this opening track off the eponymous EP, rhythm and melody intertwine languidly over a backdrop of droning synth, giving it an ambient feeling. It has a transcendent quality which teeters on the verge of psychedelia.

The sense of harmony in “Aqueduct” is contrasted by one of discordance in “Withering.” Instead of spacious expanses of sound, the notes follow a dissonant chord progression. The song is made even more anxiety-inducing by the addition of sound clips of an ominous tenor voice.

While there are no lyrics, speech samples are abundant in the remaining tracks. “Sore” is an edgy tune that contains lines ripped from the financial crisis of 2008. “Snow Flurries” is a funky jam that features clips from a winter weather forecast. In “Yellow Tent” a rat-a-tat drum and trombone set a ceremonial tone, heralding in snippets of a political speech.

Chromaticam draws influence from alternative, synthwave, and indie rock, giving them broad appeal. But don’t try to box them into any one category. Throw away those preconceived notions about genre. Chromaticam defies definition.

Key Tracks: Aqueduct, Sore, Snow Flurries