A band that makes "avant-garde" music is often better off without lyrics. The instrumental dynamics of bands like Mars Volta and King Crimson are jaw-dropping, but their lyrics can be head-scratchers. When Cedric Bixler-Zavala of The Mars Volta sings, "I am a deaf con of angora goats" and King Crimson croons, "My eyes turned within only see starless and Bible black," we don't really know what the hell they're talking about, let alone what we're supposed to be picturing. Thankfully, bands like Chandler-based Underground Cities create layered instrumental compositions on the avant-garde fringe, but minus cryptic lyrics. So the listener gets to create his or her own mental images. For example, keyboards and spacey guitars on "It's Raining in the Attic" (from their 2010 record, The Dalliance Album) emulate the sound of steady rain, and the dreamy, rolling snare evokes a lazy day spent lounging. Another track from Dalliance, "A Ballroom in Retrospect," utilizes a jazzy bass line and a steady, bass-drum stomping rhythm to paint a picture of ghosts dancing in an empty room. Other Underground Cities songs, like "Train Tracks in the Sky" and "The Great Descent of the Sun," may not bring specific images to mind, but they do showcase complex timing changes and intricate guitar work reminiscent of classic instrumentals like Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia." Ultimately, Underground Cities' merging of post-rock, prog-rock, and the avant-garde falls somewhere between witchy instrumentals like Electric Light Orchestra's "Fire on High" and the more linear rock sound of contemporaries like Explosions In the Sky — all while retaining the band's own sonic stamp.
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