If you had an actual musical score that followed your life, imagine that moment of success and realization that comes after accomplishing something great. When your chest is the first to break that ribbon at the end of a race and you realize you are capable of that achievement. You can do that amazing thing. Shangrala would score the music for that scene. They truly make a joyful noise. Not the simple sort of joyful noise, such as a melody that gets hung up in your head, although they certainly have rich layers of melodies, but a truly fulfilling noise that constructs itself deeply and slowly surrounds you before enrapturing you in catharsis. Victory! You’ve done it! Their original breed of rock and roll is symphonic in its complexity and dynamics.
Featuring layers of rhythms and harmonies stacked on one another like a math equation that you can’t quite fathom, and a profound understanding of the journey their music tugs you through, this quintet is unparalleled in their medium. They softly whisper the profound thoughts that keep you thinking through the night but then, when you don’t quite expect it, they rock right over you. And no one rocks with a heavier hand than when Shangrala breaks into the bone of the song. Their set starts off like a promising dream, quixotic and fantastic, it chimes and dances into your ears like a child, but grows to be quickly intense and expansive. Incorporating dissonant notes and constantly adding a new rhythm to set your heart racing on top of the last rhythm. And as the various musicians work their parts of the equation, the space widens, tensions mount, your ambiguous objective seems too powerful, and suddenly: silence. Shangrala has gotten you here. Now look out because the song isn’t over. The song isn’t over because it isn’t just a song. This is an epic journey. Shangrala doesn’t just tell the story, as a song might, they make the story happen around you. After that silence is the battle. If there is anything formulaic about the way Shangrala writes music, its that every piece features a battle. This is when the rock comes out. This is where the rhythm shifts, the pace puts you off guard, you think for a moment you may lose the battle. The task is too daunting. You are disoriented. Then the finale. In the finale you win. This is your victory song. This is a joyful sound.
Unlike any music being made commercially or even in the underground, Shangrala features elements that might be construed as inspired by Deathcab for Cutie, Cursive, or Explosions in the Sky, but in actuality all of these comparisons are a stretch. These five accomplished musicians have come from various walks of life and found each other in a garage behind a Riverside Apartment in Jacksonville, Florida and when they collided, Shangrala is the noise they made. For 2 years now they have been crafting and honing that noise to make it perfectly shaped and sounded. What emerges is Will and Walt Hill’s ability to communicate with drummer Mike VonBalson through the rhythms they concoct from one another. Mike’s beats may start in simple, and then pull Will’s bass into the foundations of the song, but Walt enters with a percussive keyboard that launches the song anew. Jude Kahle’ s guitar strums in line with the bass, but then Brian Jerin’s guitar enters with a whole new dimension of rhythm and tone. Mike and Brian have been crafting articulate and amazing songs together for many lifetimes.
Words by Jon Bosworth