Browsing through the local CDs at the end of a recent DJ shift at Underworld, I spotted Goosander's debut EP. I recognized their name from recent listings here on Gigguide.tw, but knew nothing about them. No problem - I decisively picked it up to take home and give a thorough listen. Oh, and what is a goosander anyway?
To answer the latter, a goosander is an attractive migratory bird (a duck, to be sure). The band adopted it as their name as they feel the transient nature of this animal embodies their sense of Taiwan, a migratory destination throughout history for both birds and people, and by extension, music. For all that has come and gone, the post rock sound has taken root here and Goosander feels compelled to assimilate it further. (Whereas 島嶼 Island is sung in English, the band proudly points out the rest of their repertoire is written in Taiwanese, still a rarity in today's scene).
Goosander is an apt moniker. This is a good-looking band deeply immersed in an ocean of dream pop & shoe-gazey post rock; the lyrics dwell on longing, loss, and passing of memories and time; the lush, hazy music provides a perfect atmosphere for those reflective moments when you need to turn life down a few notches and let thoughts drift and unfold naturally - to migrate from one state of mind to another, as it were.
The five songs are powerful and mature, reminding me at times of 王非 Wang Fei and Sugar Plant (of Japan). Although quite young, having formed in 2009, it is no wonder they've already enjoyed some proper respect and attention, participating twice in Legacy's Next Big Thing, the reputable livehouse's series of concerts spotlighting up-and-coming talent, and hooking up with White Wabbit Records, themselves no strangers to good taste.
Among the EP's highlights are 島嶼 Island, which opens with a haunting piano giving way to arpeggiated lines and a flowering voice. The band fully assembles to walk in step towards a circling, beautiful swirling chorus, then floats down through clouds of feedback into the footprints of the piano, softly walking away like the song's lamented, lost lover.
川秋沙 Goosander begins with echo-y guitars and a mid-tempo beat that grows into a great weaving of more distorted guitar work and spacey keyboards - great in both the balance and timbre. The fine guitars continue throughout the disc, especially on the epic concluding track 少年花 Flower Bud.
The songs enjoy a solid mix (cheers to NOIZ studio & producer 吳逸駿 Wu Yi Chun) and generally rely on a similar structure, not that this is a bad thing. Goosander's music tends to build to an emotional, swooning climax at its midpoint, slowly collapsing from its peak to gracefully land approximately where they started, but with the benefit of a cathartic release along the way.
Sounds like a good plan to me.