Pacers (步行者) are a four-piece post-rock band who started out playing heavy metal. However, a few years ago when their vocalist had to take leave from the band in order to do his military service, the remaining members decided to turn their skills to post-rock. Somehow, what was supposed to be a temporary situation became permanent; their vocalist never returned, and the band never went back to metal. Even their name, Pacers, was supposed to be only temporary. But it too has become permanent.
During their three years as a post-rock band, they have been quite active, honing their craft while performing over 60 times, predominantly at venues in an around their hometown of Taichung. This month saw them visit Kaohsiung for just the second time when they played at In Our Time on Oct 21. I must admit that, to me, their music sounds quite similar to that of several other Taiwanese post-rock bands. But that is of course a good thing. Their compositions typically ebb and flow, exploring variations on a simple motif while alternating frequently between loud and soft, energetic and gentle. Some connoisseurs of the genre may distinguish a fuller, heavier sound, with longer periods of crashing cymbals and thumping toms – perhaps a throwback to their heavy metal origins – or detect something distinctive in terms of the richness and diversity of the sounds that they manage extract from their instruments.
Like that of Taiwan’s many other excellent post rock bands, their show really is a great way for anyone with limited Mandarin to experience the warmth and passion of Taiwan’s vibrant indie music scene on an equal footing with locals. It is not interrupted with any banter with the audience, for, as they say on their Facebook page, we should just close our eyes and find our own lyrics within music.
They have released a three-track self-titled EP that can be heard on YouTube and Streetvoice or downloaded in FLAC format from Indievox. My favorite track is ‘Dawn’, a seven-minute piece with a simple melody that starts slowly and then undergoes several abrupt changes before its satisfying symphonic finale. The songs are all collaborative efforts by the four members, who are:
Yu Jung (尤容) – guitar
You Chun (祐鈞) – guitar
Chia Yu (家佑) – drums
Chi Hsuan (啟軒) – bass