[Reviewed by: Peter Marks]
Ever since Dif Juz ended in 1987, I have been looking for a band to fill the incredible void they left behind and with their debut album, Boston’s I/O have managed to do this. While not as abstract or experimental as they were, I/O are so melodic and so fearlessly versatile that I can finally move on. Their album’s title itself should clue you in as to what they’re about. If you’re curious go ahead and research what the word saudade means and then go listen to their songs, I think you’ll find that they’ve nailed it perfectly.
These are indeed, the sounds of intense longing. The odes you’d come across in your most private and vulnerable moments when all you can do is think about someone or something you would give anything to be around again. It is most effective when ruminating about where one’s youth went so quickly and it takes me right back to the solitary room I moved through all those years living in the city. The cold, unforgiving nature of that place and the solace I would feel once the door was locked and the blinds drawn never did have a soundtrack but if I’d stayed then these nine works would form it. When something is missing in your life, there’s no way to ignore it, oh you can try to mask it with temporal pursuits but when the world goes away it will come back with a vengeance.
From what I can piece together from their page and their music, it would seem that they are comprised of two guitarists, bassist, keyboardist and a drummer. There aren’t any pretty words or clever verbiage to lull your senses. This is the sound of reunions which never were but still could be, it is the sound of late summer rusting into fall with the looming empty air growing heavy and dense with possibility all around; these tracks move through moods like a chameleon’s colors and they shed their skins like a snake in the endless expanse of a lifeless desert. ‘Saudade’ is the oasis, the one thread to connect and convey you back to any kind of survival.
They could have done far worse with their introduction, most new bands I hear seem to be caught up in revisionism and retro-grade burnout. Not these guys, however, they’re made an epic beginning. They’ll shift time signatures so slyly you won’t even know what they’ve gotten you into until the song ends and you become immersed by the next one.
“Its as much yours as it is ours” is their mantra and this could be taken so many ways or applied to a million things simultaneously, don’t go into this record with the expectation of anything more than what they state. ‘Saudade’ is a release designed to make you think, where those thoughts wind up going is entirely dependent upon the listener. It’s a rare state to find yourself in and even rarer to come across from an instrumental formation who are lumped into the post-rock category, yet for whom song structure and melody are the most important thing. These guys can play, my oh my can they play and it would be a treat to catch them live.