Three minutes in on my first listen to this album, I was fully prepared for 50 minutes of dull post-rock noodling. Suddenly, the pace picked up, the horns came in, and “A Dusty Book, A City of Lights” veered off sideways into something resembling an acid rock freak out. Now that was unexpected! It certainly got my attention back.
HC-B hail from Catania in Sicily and take their name from legendary French photojournalist Henri Cartier-Bresson. They’ve been active for a decade now, but Soundcheck for a Missing Movie is just their second full length album.
Mostly instrumental, the record has more in common with the likes of Do Make Say Think and Grails than it does with the hoards of quiet-loud merchants. They’re not afraid to lift the pace higher than the usual stately plod, either. Album highlight “Hot Afternoon in the Bull’s Square” comes in with a military snare drum clatter and a driving bass line redolent of Pink Floyd’s “One of These Days”. With the melody driven by the horns, it’s refreshingly direct.
The second half is not quite so striking as the first, probably because there isa little more of the generic post-rock about it. “Slow Compensation”, the record’s token vocal track, is pleasant enough, but not especially striking – a bit too floppy-fringe indie. “Crystal Lane” starts all shoegazy, but then ends like Led Zeppelin, with some Bonhamesque tubthumping and some gloriously paleolithic riffing. “Missing Movie” is a fittingly raucous finale. There’s also a hidden track that’s virtually a drum solo – not something you hear often these days. Certainly HC-B have more about them than most in their field. Soundcheck for a Missing Movie isn’t totally consistent, but at its best it’s terrific.
1 A Dusty Book, A City of Lights 9:45
2 Dead Horse Walking 2:19
3 Black 5:46
4 Hot Afternoon in the Bull’s Square 4:00
5 Playing With Planes 11:19
6 Slow Compensation 6:01
7 Crystal Lane 6:25
8 Missing Movie 8:44