Rocket Miner – Elegy

 Reviewed by Foofer

Rocket Miner had been all but declared dead until recently. With nothing but a collection of demos and an EP album both released in 2011, ‘Elegy’ came out of seemingly nowhere. It almost feels like it’s their first album, but let it never be said it feels like an amateur album. I don’t personally know of their musical experience, but they sound like they’ve been doing this for quite some time.

There isn’t any other word for this album except ‘solid.’ The composition isn’t anything that’s breaking new ground, but it’s a very sturdy sense of structure. If they were engineers instead of musicians, they wouldn’t be building exotic skyscrapers. Instead, they would be building bridges that would withstand thousands upon thousands of trucks. Like I said, Solid. But what else would you expect from a band that sounds like Russian Circles’ offspring?

I enjoy my post-rock the same way Frasier enjoys fancy restaurants. He wants it perfect except that one small flaw to hang onto and obsess over. Elegy’s one flaw is how small the band members sound by themselves. When there’s only one instrument playing, it sounds very weak. Of course it sounds better when everyone joins in, but the solo bits are extremely lacking.

What they lack in solos, they make up for with shining examples of each member’s strengths. For example, ‘Jejune’ is a wonderfully sublime track with a bass sound that rumbles in my very soul. I could listen to this track every day of my life and I’d still get excited over the bass. I only wish it were 15 minutes long.

Lastly, a small celebration should be had for this album. While the last track is the longest piece of the album, it doesn’t belong under the ‘crescendo-core’ genre. As I’ve stated in my earlier reviews, ending an album with one large and loud hurrah annoys me to no end. It’s musical masturbation, plain and simple. This single fact makes this album better than most, in my eyes.

All in all, I really enjoy this album a lot, and I hope you enjoy it as much as I.

 

tags: experimental post-rock rock shoegaze instrumental Chicago

Audrey Fall – Mitau

I envision big things in the future of Audrey Fall, a four-piece instrumental post-rock/metal band from Latvia. Although they’ve been around for about four years now, including a reshuffle of band members and direction, they’ve just released their debut album ‘Mitau’earlier this year.  Despite the fact that I’m writing this review independently, this is an album that has caught the attention of much of our team here at Postrockstar, with things such as “best debut album of 2014” and “totally took me by surprise” being thrown around internally when discussing this album. I would be a fool to disagree. ‘Mitau’ is an album that has caught us all off guard and is easily my favorite debut album since ‘Equanimity’ by set & setting, which took home our debut album of the year award last year.

This beefy 10-track debut clocks in at just under an hour long, intertwining post-metal intensity and heavier amplifier jarring riffage with more post-rock friendly melodies and interludes. The end result is a whirlwind effort that tirelessly sweeps the listener off their feet. I think the most impressive feat the album accomplishes is that all ten tracks are of equal caliber. This isn’t an album of three amazing tracks and seven pretty good tracks. It’s an album of ten tracks equal in stature, with each possessing qualities that make them bold, loud and unique. The album has been finely crafted so that transitions are only noticeable because the tracks are broken up. If the band been so inclined they could have released this as one massive song and I don’t think anyone would have complained.

The  album opens with a uncomfortably slow yet deliberate intro to “1944” before quickly diving into some riffs that would make prog-metal fans rise with attention. Flirting with some double bass action throughout the track, drumming stands out as a high spot even with the excessive cymbal crashing. Drum work gives the marching orders as the track ends in a fury of post-metal heaviness. An A+ opening track that leads into “Petrina”, giving us a short one minute atmospheric intro that leads into a very Cloudkicker-esque sounding track. The constant clashes between intensity and reserved melody here toy at the emotions of the listener. Another strong ending leads us into “Wolmar” which has a more traditional straightforward build up by using clean guitar in front of a wall of elongated crescendo guitar texture waiting to erupt. Although it grows in intensity, it follows this pattern until about the halfway mark when there is a change in pace. This track is a real treat with quality headphones. At one point you can pinpoint three layers of distinctly different guitars, one in the upper depths of each channel and one right in the dead center. It’s a real treat for an audiophile like myself.

“Driksa” is full of catchy riffs that are joined by a layer of spiraling crescendo guitar early on that pushes forward with huge anticipation towards a massive breakdown in the middle of the track. Gun to my head, If I had to pick one track as a favorite it would be “Driksa”, it’s just so damn powerful and raw. “Bermondt” is the no nonsense halfway point of the album that starts off with outlandish intensity, commanding attention with pace pushing guitar work and distinct bass lines. “Valdeka” is the only track on the album that I have to be critically objective of, simply because the track feels as though it’s recording process was much different than the rest of the albums. There is a stark drop in recording quality which takes away from an otherwise potent song. Between that and coming off the heels of the “Bermondt” powerhouse, I would have liked to see this track either removed or reworked if it does in fact happen to be a tune that’s been in the bands wheelhouse for some time.

That being said, the album returns right back to stellar quality with “Eliass”, a more reserved spaciously melodic effort that delivers a powerhouse ending. I can’t say enough good things about “Courland Aa”, a track that fools us with a slow pretty synth build up and immediately turns the tables with a riffs that can simply be described as electric. Double bass pedal action returns and truly stands tallest here as the track makes it’s way through peaks and valleys, driven all the way by a whirlwind display of excellence behind the kit by drummer Aigars Lībergs. This might be the most impressive song on the album in terms of technical prowess.  “Priboi” builds through an intro of atmospheric drone before launching into the standard tirade of layered guitars and breakneck drumming we’ve come to appreciate. The album comes to a close with “Mederm”, a more relaxed post-rock goodbye that is book noted by a signature close like only Audrey Fall can deliver.

2014 has been such an impressive year for post-rock in just two short months. We’ve had four relatively high profile album releases and a plethora of bands new and old emerging with new efforts. Standing out in the current crowd of new releases is no easy task and Audrey Falls has done just that with “Mitau”. This is an album that is built for longevity and will surely see some year end lists. It might have taken them time to find their identity, but with one gem under their belts, the future is bright for this young Latvian powerhouse.

 

tags: rock instrumental post-metal post-rock postrock Latvia

Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra – Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything

Nobody sounds quite like Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra. This is our Punk Rock, declares their 2003 album, and the aesthetics are there. This is protest music from a chamber band with passionate, but never romantic, scorn filled, angry, andever-hopeful lead and group vocals. Efrim’s vocals are the Marmite selling point; you either love them or you hate them. Once you’ve made that decision, and few people seem sold immediately, you are in for some of the most truthful and from the heart music out there.

The immediate comparison is to Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That is granted, being as most of the band also play in GY!BE, but the ease of comparison has been made more difficult with each subsequent release; Thee Silver Mt Zion have become their own beast.

‘Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything’ is Thee Silver Mt Zion’s seventh studio album. What struck me immediately was the overall heaviness of the tracks; the filthy fuzzed out guitars of Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island Of Montreal), the driving drums in Take Away These Early Grave Blues; contrasted with the lullaby qualities of Little Ones Run and the safely (for TSMZ anyway) played What We Loved Was Not Enough. It is because of this that the strongest tracks are at the beginning of the album and it loses its consistency by Little One Runs onwards. I still really enjoy the second half, but after the powerful first tracks I feel that they could (should?) be on a different release, most likely somewhere after Horses In The Sky and before KollapsTradixionales.

The first two tracks are some of the strongest tracks that the band has ever put out. Fuck Off Get Free (For The Island Of Montreal) is borderline metal in parts, with its utterly disgustingly fuzzy riff that the track subtly builds into. The track begins with drums and the instruments all come in fuzzed up to make a wonderfully dirty wall of shoegaze sounds. The vocals come in as some of the strongest Efrim has ever delivered. I’ve always enjoyed the lack of confidence underlying on his vocal tracks and I was initially disappointed by this change in delivery, but the track is all the better for the strong performance. The change into the heaviest riff TSMZ have ever given us was initially shocking, but very powerful and really paves the way for the rest of the track which is played out to a technique that TSMZ excel in; group vocals. The vocal hook follows the music’s melody and creates a massive sound. An “order out of chaos” moment, if you will.

Austerity Blues is the longest track on the album and the live tracked acoustic chords that subtly move out of time give it an essence of being played around a campfire during the night in a protest camp. Fuzz begins to envelop the track and it builds and builds very slowly and musically becomes rather triumphant and as the vocals, “Lord let my son live long enough to see the mountain torn down”, are brought in a shiver runs down my spine. It’s a very strong moment and from there the track is dismantled down into disjointed instruments playing alongside each other rather than with each other. A little bit like an orchestra as they tune up before a performance, but this is after the performance and plays on the uncertainty and hope displayed in the lyrics.

Take Away These Early Grave Blues is urgent and anxious. The violins shred their way through the tracks and the vocals are blisteringly fast, almost struggling to keep up the pace. It is an exhausting track with a final, demanding, message. Love each other. Next to this track Little Ones Run is a short lullaby of piano and crooned group vocals. It is a changing point in the album, perfect to introduce What We loved Was Not Enough.

Still incorporating the fuzzed up instruments that have been prominent in the first half of the album, What We Loved Was Not Enough still feels like a slightly younger TSMZ. It loses out to the tracks before it mainly as it hasn’t got a stand out hook that pulls you in. This does not mean that it is a bad track; standing alone it would shine especially with the strong vocal performance with lead and backing.

The album finishes with Rains Thru The Roof At The Grand Ballroom. It is short, sweet, and angelic; but ends the album on a low point. The vocals, “Hold on”, are the unhopeful promise of change, and the album goes out without a bang.

Overall Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything is a welcome entry in TSMZ’s catalogue. It is not their strongest overall release, but includes some of their strongest material. I definitely recommend that you give it some of your time.

 

Click here to Purchase on Itunes

Plainfire – But When Words Fail

Coming to us from the heartland of the good ole’ U.S. of A, Plainfire is the effort of Parker Loghry, backed by a world of musical influence. Although he considers his music to be of post-rock/ambient vein, I’ve really had a tough time trying to put convince myself those labels are appropriate for his latest album ‘But When Words Fail’. I guess you could say that the album title is true to the art contained within.

According to Parker, “‘But When Words Fail’ is a story about progress from one season to another. It is about the transitional transfer of love, trust, and hope. It is also an effort to create music that can be used freely by a creative community.”

Parker possesses a true artist’s heart, and I know so just from that paragraph alone. While I tend to think I possess a keen ability to look beyond music and judge whether an artist is pouring their heart into their work, I didn’t have to listen to a single track to know that the concept behind Plainfire is to create music for the sake of art, rather for the sake of consumerism and/or the pipe dreams of fame and flashing lights.

There is a little something for every post-* (everything) fan to be found here. Mostly relaxed cheery natured post-rock with a crescendo-core build up from time to time, but there are quite a few surprises and twists mixed in along the way. Long stretches of Sigur Ros’ influenced minimalist drone that serve as prelude to monumental build ups are generally well done. I’m particularly referring to “On Shores of Clarity” here. One of my particular favorites tracks is “Even Us” which showcases a series of long drawn out  false-finish build ups that continue to edge towards a grandiose finale, culminating in just the manner you’d expect.

Like I said earlier I struggle with giving this album the ambient nod, primarily because  of the killer track “Into The Last Good Fight I’ll Ever Know”. Opening with a heavy outburst of drumming that meets a handcuffed distorted guitar waiting to break free, this track is a real mood changer slotted seventh out of the ten tracks.

Maybe I’m a little bit off base here, but “And Our Eyes Meet” feels like a Lights & Motion track slowed way down and stripped of all it’s studio gloss and broken down right to the fundamental core. It’s a solid finish to the album, but I think it’s simply outclassed by “All So Nostalgic”, the previous track which is easily the best song on the album in terms of composition, emotion and quality from a technical standpoint. Just one of those feel good uplifting songs, every element of this track just clicks, from the cheery beat to the simplistic powerful strokes of the keys. “All So Nostalgic” is the sort of track that will help get a talented artist noticed.

At the end of the day my criticisms of ‘Bt When Words Fail’ are all minor nitpicks and unfortunate happenstance. Forgoing my usual gripes about audio quality that come with the territory of any self-funded DIY release, my only other real issue is that some of the outros and lead ins feel a bit awkward, making the whole package flow less like a story told front to back and more like a story told through a scrapbook collection of differently shaped pieces and mediums.

Finally, being that I no longer really have a grasp on how most post-rock fans consume new music in the genre as I’m constantly bombarded with new music, I feel like the release window for this album could potentially hinder Plainfire’s growth going forward in the short-term. It’s just happenstance that this wonderful album was released in the same one month window in which Alcest, Mogwai, Thee Silver Mt. Zion, Rocket Miner and Moonlit sailor also all put out albums as well. I’d prefer not to see this album as a hidden gem and rather help showcase Loghry’s talents while it’s still fresh. Snag a copy via bandcamp, you won’t be dissapointed.

   

tags: ambient post-rock instrumental rock Nebraska