Blinded by Audrey Fall’s fantastic debut album that instantly made its way to the top of my 2014 list I had been listening to that and also preparing myself for ArcTanGent Festival this year by gorging myself on releases by the many unmissable bands from their line-up. When perusing Reddit’sPostRocksubreddit I found a user who had posted their top ten post-rock releases so far this year. “No Audrey Fall”, I scoffed and then my eyes fell on this name, SoraShima.
You Are Surrounded was released on 16th February this year and is New Zealand’s dark and dreamy instrumental sonic rockers SoraShima’s first long player after having released three EPs since they formed in 2006. Despite being a complete mouthful, dark and dreamy instrumental sonic rockers pretty much lays down what you need to know about these guys. However there is one major factor that is really going to decide for you how you feel about this album…
Opening track Gang Violins is ambient and electronic, to start with. Soothing, swirling pads play around punchy electric beats and then a Mogwai tracks plays….
To say that SoraShima display some Mogwai influences would be an understatement. It manifests mainly in the guitars; the tone, the melodies, the production. Just listen to the beginning of ‘And Behold A Pale Horse’ and tell me that it is not a track sadly missed from one of Mogwai’s early works. Some would scream ”rip-off”. I am much more lenient.
The tracks are solidly written and almost effortlessly display the ability to move between rocked out and ambient. ‘Fill Spectre’begins as full on indie rock and becomes a swathe of ambience. ‘Glass Coffins’ is bouncy delay filled melodies and then a Mono wall of tremolo picked sound. These are just the opening tracks, there is much more to come.
Track ‘Sendai / Kurosawa’ is a highlight for me. It would be, I like long tracks. Sixteen minutes begins with a really familiar piano melody; could not put my finger on it though. Then a sound growls from beneath the mix and the guitars enter. The motif chord pattern creates an effect that I really hold high in composition where the track has lots of movement without really going anywhere. The tension felt, as you know something massive has to happen soon, is one of the best feelings music can give you (in this writer’s humble opinion). When it breaks the tension you feel happily relieved.
Their sleeves are worn heavy with influences, but it all comes fitted together under the SoraShima banner. Each track knows its place and paces itself beautifully. It feels that there is a minimalist approach to how the instruments interact and play out. Each one has its space and never imposes uninvited into the path of another. This really is ambient post-rock at its finest.
We do have to come back to that Mogwai sound though. Is this album nearly two decades too late? It did bother me initially, but this is a brilliant album and if you let it bother you then you really are missing out.
If it had come out in the mid-90s, before Young Team, maybe we would be hailing SoraShima as one of the big players in this massive musical ocean that we call Post-Rock. Don’t let it put you off. You Are Surrounded is worth every second of your time.