Looking about in the 2004 charts of RYM, I encountered this record. With this new method of finding obscure records through this website, I am continually able to discover fantastic new stuff I have never even heard of. This band is one of those examples. I do enjoy post-rock every now and then, and this LP reminded me just how good it can be.
After another long day of music discovery, I threw this into my continually growing pile of music. I listened to various snippets of the track list, and it captured my interest. This method in particular is one I use quite often, and is much better at purging any records that are inconsistent or misleading with their sound. The day ended, and a week passed, and I decided by chance, to throw on the record, and my jaw went K A P O W to the ground.
The curtains reveal a strange first few seconds, beep boop bop ba da ba boop, akin to a ringtone, but then this minimal "beat" instantly shapeshifts into a lone guitar. At first it could seem like this inclusion was nonsensical, but it is in fact a great little snippet as to introduce the listener as to what they are getting into. There are several of these jarring musical changes with zero transition, from the sudden pause of music on track 2, the strange guitar wallows in the middle of track 3, the out of nowhere piano finisher on track 4, and so on. With the post-rock being offered here already being different in itself, these little random additions are just icing on top of an already amazing cake.
So the opening begins for real. The lone guitar returns and stays, and with the guitar comes the additional instruments, adding layers upon layers of lush background production. A kind of style like this one could be applied to different types of post-rock artists such as Swans & Godspeed You! (yeah I know I'm normie) but what makes this band standout is how they sound more mystical rather than atmospheric. With the slight electronic influences as well as slowcore & shoegaze, this combination is incredibly effective under the post-rock genre label. With more room to let the music truly feel alive, the opening specifically sounds surprisingly optimistic & uplifting, while at the same time depressing & somber. LIke trying to move on from the loss of a loved one in order to improve oneself mentally.
However, while the sound could be split in both ways with how it could be interpreted, the lyrics for pretty much every single track are bleak and extremely saddening.
"Can my life wait any longer?"
"Give me a sign, wait any longer....."
Not only are these lines brutally blunt, but repeated over and over again. Each word is slowly whispered onto the track, giving not just a sad vibe, but a feeling of absolute despair. And the mini chorus of A A A A HHHHHHHHHHHHHhhhhh really doesn't help, as it replicates the down to earth reality of hopelessness. The intriguing part is that the band doesn't need to explain, as the singing & sound represents these emotions perfectly. Which is what makes this opener so great, and quite easily a 10/10 in my book. The instruments are really just tools to display the cluttered basket of thoughts within the band's mind, with each memory, moment, moreover, melting into the music, practically fusing with it. They are one.
The longest track on the record, INQB8TR, is an 8 minute beast that is painted with the darkest soundscape on the whole record, and the lyrics reflect this as well. A departure from the repetitive nature of the first track's lyrics, these are more poetic, yet continue the pattern of being spread out in delivery. Each of these decisions results in each line being coated with an emotional outpouring that I greatly admire. In all honesty, not much happens in turns of energy, as this piece is pure slowcore, but still remains effective. Despite the near deadpan delivery of the main vocalist, you feel the meaning of each word he utters, like a kickback into the soul.
Delving even deeper into lyrics would be a decent way to analyze the record moving forward, but the greatest attention should undoubtedly go towards the music itself. And for 2004, it sounds pretty fantastic. At first I thought the mixing was off on certain tracks, but it ended up just being myself. You see, I was so focused on the instrumentals themselves that I forgot about the vocalist, he was completely absent. These moments are the best on the LP, where I lose myself in the music, and if you know me, that is how you know a record is good.
Soon enough, we arrive at the end product. My final thoughts. I know that I have mostly praised this record for being an engaging post-rock experience, and that is true, but not all the tracks floored me like the first. In fact, there are some issues with this record that could be addressed. To begin, there is an interlude in the middle of the record, managing to handle only a single minute runtime. Again with these interludes, I don't favor them because they do absolutely nothing for me. They just bounce off my ears. With every single track receiving so much effort with the build up & environment, throwing down a random interlude just seems like a cruel joke. In addition to this, the vocal performances were definitely beginning to get a bit grating after a few more listens. While I do get absolutely entranced by them in amazing representations like 400 WInters (T4) & Shapeshifting (T8). Instead of just being thrown in, these examples feel like they add more to the music, making it more powerful & stunning. The same can't be said for Miss Abuse, The Black Meat, & Burning The City. And it isn't that the vocals are terrible, it's just that the instrumentals are the main attraction, and are so good that the vocals can't really compare. However, I will give the record props for making the record have a more downtrodden feel with the vocals having a deadpan style. It clearly isn't phoned in and the performances are still good, I was just hoping for more.
Listen after listen after listen of this LP has helped me realize how important the instrumentals are to a record. With modern rock music being so incredibly simplistic and soulless, it is always nice to go back in time and encounter an unknown gem. I highly recommend this record to anyone who likes their music that has a tint of uniqueness on top of the typical post-rock style. It saddens me that there isn't much left from this group to discover, but this does tempt me to unpack their debut, which could be even better than this. Either way, this is an excellent record that I will be revisiting time & time again, and overtime the rating might go up. For now, this album is just great, and who doesn't like a great album?
STANDOUT TRACK: From What Is Said To When It's Read