Aloha display their dazzlingly accessible post-rock grafting of jazz, prog-rock, spacy electronics, and pop on this superb five-song, 20-minute EP. The record has something of a live feel, giving the listener a quick snatch of what the actual Aloha experience is all about: by turns laconic, loose, taut, and electric; one moment diving into electronic expanses, the next offering up a sweet, lazy pop song, and then imploding into a phased, agitated jazz jam. In fact, the album was captured in two days (with an additional few days of overdubs and mixing), so the off-the-cuff energy is not simply a lucky by-product, but a true representation of the band. As could be expected, the instrumentation is ridiculously eclectic. On the basic instrumentation side, Tony Cavallario's rhythm guitar playing is infinitely textured and interesting, while Matthew Gengler's bass sounds bottomless and shows an unparalleled grasp of spatial depth; beneath their interplay, Cale Parks scatters atmospheric snare and cymbal beats in every direction, as if John Densmore were backing Captain Beefheart's Magic Band. Eric Koltnow is the linchpin of the band's complex mixture. He plays everything from piano and synthesizer to glockenspiel, but it's his vibe playing that's directly at the center of the Aloha sound. Vibes take over songs such as "Roanoke Born" and "Gary's Narrator," sending them into ethereal jazz territory. Equally important in all this, though, are Cavallario's lovely vocals. His voice sketches out what are, for all intents and purposes, relaxed pop melodies. To call Aloha a pop band, however, is misleading and too constrictive for their beautiful music. They end The Great Communicators with an electronically ominous instrumental, and it is that tension between their pretty (albeit idiosyncratic) pop inclinations and their complex, percussive instrumental attack that makes Aloha's music so immaculately evocative.
© Stanton Swihart /TiVo