Named after its length, Gregor Samsa’s ambient, atmospheric 55:12 is much more than the simple assemblage of minutes and seconds. These songs are woven carefully and full of fine subtleties that unfold with caution, but at the same time display a clear creative confidence that infuses even the quietest with an energetic intangibility.
The record begins with “Makeshift Shelters,” a contemplative, soft track featuring Tribes Of Neurot-style electronics. It sets a quiet, singular tone of minimalism for the rest of the record, and even though the guitars echo out into the vast expanse of the mix, the music is never lost in itself.
From there, the epic “Even Numbers” kicks in with an Isis-like hypnotic rhythm led by violin. The hums and effects from “Makeshift Shelters” still factor in, as they do in the tracks that follow, serving to add tone and fill what would otherwise be empty space.
Vocals are sparse on these first two tracks, and quiet when they do come in, rarely dominant of the music. “What I Can Manage” picks up the pace a bit in this regard, adding brush drumming and arthouse jazz piano, while “Loud And Clear” provides a short, instrumental guitar interlude.
“These Points Balance” and “Young And Old” follow a similar course, though the former features vocals and the latter is an instrumental exercise in building a song to its apex. “We’ll Lean That Way Forever” is a longer interlude at 3:41, based around whirling guitar effects and percussive noise which give way to whispery female vocals.
Closer “Lessening” keeps the melancholic mood going to the very end, kicking in at around the four minute mark for a last minute piano-led excursion that cuts out in time for the guitars to end on a quiet note. It’s not until you hear fingers moving up and down the fretboard that you realize these are individuals making this music, that it hasn’t just appeared out of the thin air it occupies.
The kind of record you could lose yourself in forever if you’re willing to give into it, Gregor Samsa’s 55:12 may only be that long, but there is enough thought and genuine emotion poured into the material to make it last much, much longer.