Had I been quicker on the draw, the Chilean post-rock/space-math quartet Helices would have made it onto my 2015 year-end list with their incendiary debut “Propulsor.” Their take on instrumental music sounds something like what might result if The Sound of Animals Fighting and The Mars Volta teamed for an improvisational post-rock-leaning jam session, and the early returns have been nothing short of invigorating. Now firmly in the loop, I have been able to get on board in a timely fashion for their follow-up EP “Puentes.” Trading in some of the bombastic vitriol of “Propulsor” for cleaner math-centric tones, “Puentes” still provides a showcase for Helices’ jaw-dropping musical acrobatics.
“Puentes,” appropriately, feels like a bridge of sorts between “Propulsor” and whatever lies ahead in the band’s future. It functions less as a fully-immersive standalone release and more like an intriguing annotation informing one aspect of Helices’ sound, namely their spacy math-rock side. The de facto lead track “Crucemos Los Puentes,” powers through a dizzying succession of ideas, never satisfied to settle in for more than a few bars at a time. While their duo of guitar players propels the narrative forward, the meat and potatoes lie with the rhythm section. Bassist Nelson Irigoyen eschews his usual fret-blistering approach here in favor of intricate supporting melodies, allowing drummer Felipe Angulo space to showcase his muscular, just-barely-contained percussive histrionics. Like many of their previous songs, “Crucemos Los Puentes” features striking polyphonic sensibilities, with each performer doing his own complex work, all of which comes together to blend into a cohesive whole. This aesthetic sets the band apart and offers a welcome departure for weary post-rock travelers seeking shelter from the usual slow and dramatic crawl.
With two releases now under their belt in the space of less than a year, Helices should be landing on the radars of instrumental music fans the world over. If you find that “Puentes” offers an intriguing glimpse into their sound, understand that “Propulsor” is integral to fully understanding what this band is capable of. Both releases are available through Helices’ BandCamp page.