HABAK (MEX) / FRACTAL (MEX) – Split, 2022 🇬🇧


Versión en español

Do split albums with two bands playing very different genres work? They truly blend very rarely. It’s not about two raw black metal bands with slightly different approaches, and they present their own decent music separately but, together in the shared album. Or six-ways-split grindcore albums that are still evenly matched sonorities. We are talking about achieving a palpable symbiosis between both acts.

The root of the symbiosis lies, firstly, within the intrinsic quality of the music. And secondly, the existing connections among the apparent differences. Influences, if we want to call them that. This split between the Mexicans HABAK and FRACTAL is unrepeatable because of the excellent result, made in the exact time and place.

I should say that HABAK had every ingredient for me to dislike their music since, in my opinion, behind the melodic crust label hides a screamo band (or skramz, which is how the bands that practice the original itineration of the style, separating themselves from the screamo fashion of the mid-2000s, call themselves) and I have no problem with admitting that it is a style that I consider dead since most bands try to imitate the aura of the pioneers from Washington DC without much success. But here is one of the rare exceptions. The Tijuana band has three albums under their belt, and what they display here is a sound that denotes hard work and refinement.

The three tracks they provide follow a fairly similar, though not identical, structure. A more or less long and clean intro followed by an outburst where the crust is more prominent, and from the main part of the song they vary. They introduce a certain touch of math rock as in «Nuestra condena es el colapso» or opt for an ambient outro, like the one that closes «La insignificancia de la Vida cotidiana«. But the real merits of the band, what won me over, and what is probably 100% subjective, is how those introductory parts of the songs achieve the longed-for balance between beauty and sadness, which is not an easy task. To a more objective degree, the fact that they are able to introduce melody in the crustier parts (their label is not misguided), thus avoiding sounding too abrasive, and that they achieve fluidity between the interludes and the more ambient parts, thus linking the continuity of the songs. Whatever the level of intensity, there are no abrupt changes. Everything flows, everything is very post-rock in its own way.

That’s why we can speak of symbiosis. HABAK allows the songs to breathe out, and to take us to the next point, transmitting a «post-rock soul» which they share with the next band: FRACTAL. Also from Tijuana and with drummer Patrick as another connection between the two.

FRACTAL also have about three albums on their resume and, again, it’s something you notice when listening to their only song on the split «Vacío«. Its fifteen minutes are not as intimidating as it may initially seem, as it adheres to a very basic principle: make it varied enough that it can’t be ignored. This is not to say that it is necessary to compose Tubular bells, where minute one is radically different from minute twenty. The beginning is quiet, with a few chords for the intensity in crescendo until the song really settles down, and the main riff and rhythm are introduced until they feel that section has expired. Then they start again, but in this round, they add small variations, until they return to the main flow….. And then it starts all over again until the final third where Vicka‘s violin, an unknown guest, steals the show. If post-rock is already a melancholic genre in itself, this collaboration once again achieves that mixture of beauty/sadness we were talking about at the beginning, which is also a characteristic of the first part of this split. Once again, syncretism is achieved.

This description of «Void» – or instructions on how to do proper post-rock – is much easier to describe than to develop, and FRACTAL has managed to create a rounded 15-minute track with no apparent flaw (although its authors will probably differ). Something extremely complicated that fits with just guitar, bass, drums, and violin. They don’t even present it with a convoluted sound mix. In simple terms: they do a lot with a little.

Summing up, if when the split is over someone tells you that it really is just one band presenting an EP, and on the last album they’ve decided to go all out and put in an extra-long track with all the influences they couldn’t put on the previous ones, you would believe it. A fusion so well done that both bands might not be able to replicate it tomorrow.

Traducido por Irene López