Roundtable Review: Lights & Motion – ‘Reanimation’

Artist Lights & Motion
Album Reanimation
Genre Post-rock / Ambient
Buy/DL Deep Elm Digital
Web Facebook | Soundcloud
Label Deep Elm Records
Released Jan 16 2013
Rating Very Good / Excellent

    In our first roundtable review of 2013 we are examining Lights & Motion’s debut album, ‘Reanimation‘, released January 16th on Deep Elm Records. Lights & Motion is the brainchild of Swedish musician Christoffer Franzén and tends to walk among the lighter side of the genre. Without further ado let’s get to our panel of reviewers —

    “I tend to prefer vocal music to instrumental music. I like stories and words and the emotion and nuance that can be communicated vocally. Furthermore, instrumental music has to try a little harder to sound unique; usually a singer has his own delivery, word choice, enunciation and timbre that sets songs apart. All of that said, Lights & Motion’ s latest, ‘Reanimation‘, is a good example of an instrumental album done well. It sounds like a mixture of Sigur Ros and The End of the Ocean but with acoustic guitar, dedicated string section and a piano holding the melody. Highlights include “Victory Rose” – mellow, pretty track, perfect for a night drive; “Fractured” with a cool piano melody, “Texas” a track that starts with crickets, acoustic and slide guitar, then builds and adds a xylophone; and finally “Dream Away” , which I was pleasantly surprised when the final track had vocals, and a pretty good singer to boot. It serves as a great bookend to the album. The acoustic guitar and prominent piano help to separate this from other post-rock bands I listen to, so I’d rate it as “Excellent“. Well done!” – Tim

    “Let me get this out if the way first and foremost – the debut album from Lights & Motion is a good album. It has all of the crescendos you could hope for, all of the cinematic sounds, and all of the classic post-rock elements. To me, though, that’s part of its downfall. There is literally nothing here that you haven’t heard before – this part sounds like Explosions In The Sky, that part sounds like The Album Leaf, etc. There’s enough of a foundation here to leave me somewhat looking forward to what’s to come, but there just isn’t anything new here. The songs are well executed, they just travel very, very familiar ground.” – Shane

    “I’d heard A LOT of hype around the Lights & Motion release ‘Reanimation.’ Generally I’m pretty wary of anything that’s lavished with excessive praise but I manage to crack this album with an open mind. And you know what? It wasn’t terrible, but I definitely wasn’t blown away. The 13 track-record has its moments. It’s easy to listen to and even edges on greatness, but it just can’t get there. All the songs are catchy in an “I-feel-like-I’ve-heard-this-somewhere-before” kind of way that leaves me wanting to listen to the songs I’m reminded of, not the L&M versions. The perfect example of this is “Aerials.” While arguably one of the better songs on the album, it’s eerily similar to “Your Hand In Mine” by post-rock pros, Explosions In The Sky.
    The production on the album is incredibly clean with all the instrumentation reaching your ears quite clearly but I felt it was lacking in raw passion. Perhaps L&M sacrificed intensity for certain cinematic clarity. I would rate this album as average/solid.  Regardless the album is still pretty enjoyable and worthy of a listen through or two. After that? Who knows.” – Jerome

    “There’s not a lot that i need to say about this album, because if you’re a fan instrumental rock post-Explosions In The Sky then you already know what this sounds like. It’s beautiful, dramatic, powerful, to-the-point, explosive and uplifting. The culmination of everything that post-rock (or a certain school of post-rock) has been trying to achieve for the past decade. It picks your spirits up where all else has failed. It inspires feelings of awe and wonder. It’s music for stargazers. It’s the sound of your first crush and your last love. It’s crescendo-core through and through, but crescendo-core at its finest. A polished and perfected homage to everything that came before it. Is it derivative? Yes. Repetitive? A little. Contrived? Probably. But for any other band to revisit this style of music now would be futile — ‘Reanimation‘ just wont be topped. A must-listen to album.” – Shooter

    “After being bombarded by hype (thanks Deep Elm, bang up job again), I spun ‘Reanimation‘ a few times to get a feel for this ‘breathtaking’ and ‘magical’ release by EITS, GIAA, Lowercase Noises, Dorena, The Best Pessimist, Aerials, I mean Lights & Motion. Does changing your band name, as a solo musician, still allow you to use ‘debut release’ in marketing? Odd. Well, each listen left me unimpressed. I’m more of a fan of energetic, progressive, guitar-based instrumentals over the more emotive, piano-driven offerings but even so, this album provided nothing I haven’t heard on at least twelve other albums over the past seven years. Sure, it’s pretty, well produced and inoffensive – but it isn’t innovative or even noticeable in anything other than the fact it is a new release.  I must have heard that same marching, building drum beat thousands of times over the past few years. You know the one, EITS uses it on every other track. It failed to meet my number one criteria: “Can I recognize the band by the music, without looking?” I’m sure this album will end up on years’ end best of lists, because Deep Elm has excellent marketing skills and a choke hold on mid-major ‘post-rock’ releases. For me, I’ve rated it as a Solid Release – it’s OK, but don’t get your hopes up too high.” – Bothra

    “The first grievance I can see anyone listening to this album having will be that it’s formulaic and derivative. I can’t argue with that point. The first few times I listened to the album, I was ready to walk away calling it an unabashed homage to Explosions in the Sky, M83, and Sigur Ros. But I kept at it because the music has an undertone that deserves recognition. While almost every track is the formula of slow build to giant explosion, this album seems to almost perfect it. Over the course of thirteen tracks, this wears thin, but it still managed to captivate. The songs take hold when the piano is given more time to shine and the thumping drum beats stand off to the side instead of slapping you in the face. Two great examples of how this formula is done so well are “Drift” and “Reanimation“. This is a debut album and I can see this act evolving well over the next few years. Hopefully our next outing with Lights and Motions is more refined and less capable of being slapped on a movie trailer.” – Bryan

    “Deep Elm’s lineup of post-rock talent never ceases to amaze me. The label just seems to have a knack for finding some of the best talent around and ‘Reanimation‘ by Lights & Motion is just further proof of that. ‘Reanimation‘ is chalked full of cinematic flair, ripe with over the top emotion and has those captivating indescribable elements that carry it to its place among the higher echelons of post-rock releases. With top-notch production qualities and fine tuned craftsmanship, I can safely say this is the first truly brilliant post-rock release of 2013 and I think that it sets the bar high insanely high for in that regard. It’s crazy to think that at just three weeks into the new year there is already an album that will undoubtedly be found on many year-end lists and for good reason. ‘Reanimation‘ is an hour plus long magical journey that explores the depths of the soul by seamlessly transitioning between moments of glory, triumph and heartbreak. After dozens of listens I still find myself impressed at the musical mind of Christoffer Franzén (Lights & Motion). That no one particular instrument stands out as clearly being dominant or “better” than the rest speaks volumes to Franzén’s talent.
Prior to the release of this Roundtable Review, I’ve read early rumblings and criticism from those who were quick to dismiss this album as simply another third wave crescendo-core ripoff and I just don’t hear it honestly. There is a difference to me between common similarities and straight up reproducing another band’s style. Sure, there are inspirations found on ‘Reanimation‘ from EITS, and probably more so from Dorena than any other band, but they are just that, inspirations. What sets Lights & Motion apart is the fact that they’ve taken a successful formula and mastered it to include their own artistic interpretation and flair. Obviously there is going to be a little overlap in sound amongst instrumental artists of a specific style within a genre, but I think it’s far too easy to get swept up in trying to point to specific similarities than it is to simply enjoy an album for what it is. Sure “Reanimation” might not tread upon much new ground, but sometimes that’s ok and it shouldn’t detract from the fact that simply put this is an excellent album that needs to be a part of any post-rock fan’s collection.”  – IamHop

Round Table Review #3 – The Calm Blue Sea – Arrivals & Departures – 80%

   In installment number three of our ongoing Round Table Review series we take a look at the new album ‘Arrivals & Departures’ from Texas natives The Calm Blue Sea. The album is the band’s first release in four years and the follow-up to their debut self titled in 2008. Before we began, Postrockstar gives a huge thanks to the band and their label for offering this album to our writers free of charge so that we could complete this Round Table Review.

Shooter ‘Arrivals & Departures’ should be everything that I want in an album. It melds pretty post-rock guitar lines and piano melodies with the kind of delicate vocal delivery akin to bands such as Immanu El, Kyte, or the softer side of Athletics. The sense of texture and atmosphere once perfected by Explosions in the Sky is rarely ever traced with this amount of sophistication (“Pont des Mouton”, for example, sounds so indebted to Explosions in the Sky that it’s uncanny — not a bad thing). But for the first few listens to ‘Arrivals & Departures’, I felt like something was missing. The music floats, but not quite as gracefully as Immanu El‘s ‘They’ll Come, They Come.’ It’s emotional, without quite evoking the level of sentiment conveyed by Dorena‘s ‘Holofon‘. ‘Arrivals & Departures’ is fundamentally mid-tempo, and this serves to ensure that it never offends, yet it never quite excites either. Devoting your full attention to this album might render it a forgettable experience. Take it simply as music to accompany other activities such as reading, however, and you might find it will grow; its melodies and crescendos gradually latching themselves onto your subconscious. Patience is rewarded. Hopefully with their next release The Calm Blue Sea will play more to their strengths, averting focus away from explosions of sound and with a penchant for their softer, more pensive moments. The vocals, too, should be given more space to explore, as they’re certainly one of the stronger constituents of the band’s sound. – 81%

Bothra – With their 2008 self-titled release, The Calm Blue Sea rose quickly to one of my favorite new acts on the scene. “We Happy Few” was the perennial top request in the Post-Rock & Beyond turntable.fm channel that a couple other Postrockstar writers and myself regularly frequent and “The Rivers That Run Beneath This City” absolutely blew me away on several occasions. It is an understatement to say that I eagerly awaited their next installment. We were teased a few months ago with “Mary Ann Nichols“, and it piqued my interest but did not strike me at the same level that several songs from the previous LP did. I figured they were saving the real meat of the new album, ‘Arrivals & Departures‘, for release. On release, I sat with this album several times before forming an opinion on the progression between the two solid records. What I found was that my expectations got the better of me. On this album, we get more of the same – but not in any sort of innovative or comforting way. Sure, there are standout tracks such as ‘Pont Des Mouton’ and ‘Tesoro‘, with their clear melodies incorporating light intricacies of piano, subdued vocals as well as shining guitar work. I just feel that the overall emotion is lacking the punch and subtlety of the first record. The listener is left to meander half-heartedly, accompanied by background music that occasionally morphs into cacophonous crescendos. Still, TCBS does many things well. Their use of vocals in the mix is velvety and discreet, their piano work feels welcomed and they have moments of excellent song structure and effective building of emotion. Ultimately, I’m underwhelmed due to my high hopes for the album, and I feel that many bands have put out similar overall quality over the past few years. What was my pre-release favorite for album of the year ends up in the middle of the road. 83%

James – In so many ways I consider The Calm Blue Sea‘s self titled 2008 debut to be something of a perfect storm. Here you have a band coming from the backyard of one of the biggest post-rock bands of all time (Explosions in the Sky) that just happens to debut with one of the most breathtaking emotional roller coaster ride albums of all time. The album immediately put the band in rarefied air with timeless songs like “This Will Never Happen Again” and of course “We Happy Few”. To say the band set the bar high would be an understatement in my estimation. Some four years later the band has returned with ‘Arrivals & Departures’ and while I will say that it doesn’t reach the mark the band set with their debut it certainly doesn’t disappoint either. The band retained much of the formula from their debut album including the deep piano intros, the sweeping build ups and their ability to make each peak feel like a monumental moment. While some of the piano work such as the short opening track didn’t particular speak to me on the same levels the work in their earlier songs did, the guitar work is as stellar as ever. One thing I do like much more about this album is the much larger vocal presence. The vocals found within “Samsara” are beautiful yet not overpowering and feel well meshed within the rest of the instruments of the song. With its flurry of guitar layering of various styles, “Pont Des Mouton” gets my nod as best track on the album. I also have to mention the album’s closer, “To Approach the Vivian Girls” where the band manages to hit the absolute sweet spot in combining lush guitar tones and elegant piano work with minimalist vocals. All in all it combines to create a relaxed closing track that is a proper ending to the album. Overall I find ‘Arrivals & Departures’ to be a great album to drift away to the back of your mind to that will continue to grow on me as it racks up plays on my ipod. – 89%

Drew R. – To best judge an album, after the first play through I ask myself, “would I play this again and under what circumstance?”. Unfortunately for this Texan band once I have finished this review I will not be listening to it again. Whilst on the whole this album is inoffensive, there is nothing here that hasn’t been done before and done to a much higher standard. The build ups are predictable and pedestrian and sound like tracks that EITS have left on the cutting room floor. Musically the rhythm section is functional, providing a stable base for the guitars to play over but nothing is willing to take a risk. Sadly the greatest tool I can use to engage with albums, emotion, is sorely lacking here leaving me unmoved and apathetic – 55%

Bryan – After listening to ‘Arrivals & Departures’ for the first time, I walked away feeling like I hadn’t listened to anything. Nothing seemed to stand out. When I perked my ears up, the reasons as to why I could tune this out became apparent. The problem with this album is that the transitions between heavy riffs and slowly plodding piano parts are abrupt and sloppy. Right as I was sinking into a track, the guitars would start blaring and the drummers would beat the hell out of his set. Of course, this is the post-rock paradigm, but we’ve begun to move on from such easy progressions. Many will love this album because it stuck to the roots of post-rock: quiet, build, explode, restart. If that’s what you want, other bands have done it and done it better. I look forward to seeing how this band continues to evolve because there are moments that I still revisit. “Samsara” is a wonderfully slow build that breaks without unnecessary intensity. The title track emphasizes a minimalist but gorgeous piano that doesn’t devolve into unnecessary noise, and the quiet vocal line still gives me shivers. This band has some good ideas, but they need to move away from the post-rock cycle and embrace their sound. 81%

ShanexEdge – Let’s face it, when any post-rock band releases a record, it’s going to get compared to the heavyweights of the genre. That’s a given, really, in almost any genre. The Calm Blue Sea, hailing from Austin, TX, get it two-fold, as they share their hometown with genre titans Explosions in the Sky. While I can understand making the comparisons, since both bands (and many others) are big fans of the build-up, I don’t think it’s really fair. On their newest release, ‘Arrivals & Departures’, The Calm Blue Sea have delivered an album that, while carrying familiar elements of post-rock, really sets them apart from a great deal of their peers. Sure, the build-up is ever-present, but it’s delivered in a way that strikes me as more cinematic than anything else. This isn’t really a stretch for the band, considering that between the release of their self-titled debut album, and this one, they wrote a score for the 1924 silent film Siegfried, performing it live in a one-off showing off the film in their hometown.

One of the first things you notice after listening to this album all the way through is the increased presence of vocals, though I’m certainly not saying that as a negative. The majority of the vocals here, especially on tracks like “We Will Never Be As Young As We Are Tonight” and “To Approach the Vivian Girls”, are performed in such a way that the vocals themselves become an instrument, and aren’t delivered in the standard verse-chorus-verse layout. This also works well on “Diaspora“, a shorter, almost interlude track, where the vocals are the only thing accompanying a beautiful piano line, creating a wonderful atmosphere to lead in to the following track, “Mary Ann Nichols“. As wonderfully as this track starts off, it really hits its stride at the 4 minute mark, with a build-up that leads into one of the most explosive moments on the album. Showing their mastery of writing a full album, rather than just a collection of songs, this in turn leads right into “Tesoro“, my personal favorite track. What begins with a rocking first two minutes, a la The Appleseed Cast (I know, I know… comparisons), leads to a beautifully droning segment of the song, slowly building up to another explosion of melody at around 5:30. The crafting of this song is so brilliantly done, I almost feel like saying when the build-up hits should be preceded by me saying “spoiler alert!”

If you really must have a comparison between The Calm Blue Sea and their more famous Austin neighbors, here you go – to me, ‘Arrivals & Departures‘ rivals damn near anything Explosions in the Sky has released, and should rightly cement this band as one of the best in the genre, hands down. – 93%

Final Score – 80.3%

Available digitally through Itunes for $8 here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/arrivals-and-departures/id560383959

or grab the CD for just $11 here: http://modernoutsider.bigcartel.com/product/pre-order-the-calm-blue-sea-arrivals-departures-cd

The Calm Blue Sea: http://www.thecalmbluesea.com/

Post-Rock Roundtable Review : Caspian – Waking Season – 93%

Waking Season cover art

Postrockstar is proud to present the first installment of Post-Rock Roundtable Reviews. In this series several of our writers will offer their take on one of the more popular current post-rock releases.  This week’s album is the much-anticipated “Waking Season” by Caspian!

Drew: Caspian are certainly one of the luminaries of the genre. Their track ‘The Raven’ from second album ‘Tertia‘ restored my faith not only in post-rock but in music all together. Their previous two albums are must-haves, as far as I’m concerned, and ‘Waking Season’ is the best one yet. In feeling it returns to the unease, insomnia and intensity of the first album, brings in a lot of the triumph from the second and discards a lot of the ambient, ethereal moments. That’s not to say that they’re gone all together! The title track, and album opener, start with a piano refrain building slowly but unstoppable for five minutes until it abruptly cuts off and the second track starts. This digital, on-off, vibe keeps your attention, startling at times and bombastic at others. Stand out tracks are  the folk tinged ‘Hickory ’54’, the glitch inspired ‘Halls of the Summer’ and the face-melting album closer (and what a way to close!) ‘Fire Made Flesh‘. Every note here is played with purpose. The show us just what is possible in Post-Rock; taking elements of electronica, math-rock, drone and folk they combine it all with their trademark sound to create one of the albums of the year.” – 96%

Erich –  “I’m new to Caspian and my take on this album is one of awe.  This masterfully recorded treasure is so emotive and beautiful that I’m kicking myself for not getting into the band earlier. From calm to peak, and everywhere in between, there’s a sense of purpose and hope. “Waking Season” has just jumped into my best of 2012 list.  Understated at times, grand and expansive at others, with all the elements that make post-rock great, but nothing cliché,“Waking Season” is a journey that any fan of post-rock, or music in general, will be glad they took. 93%

Bothra – ” I’ve been a fan of Caspian since You Are A Conductor debuted in 2005.  I’ve always thought of them along the same lines of Mogwai, EITS, TWDY, & ASIWYFA as top-tier talent in the ‘third wave.’ I honestly think Waking Season has strengthened my opinion of them as a band.  In this album, we see a band willing to experiment, branch out and doing it well. They bring in vocals (gasp!), electronics, pianos and much more interesting song structure that this style of music has so desperately needed for a long time. Still, to my ears, it is easily identifiable to be a Caspian album even taking that into account.  Fanboys will claim that the best track is Gone in Bloom and Bough, but I feel like it’s one of the weaker offerings.  They should have renamed that one ‘Myself’ because we hear that word around six hundred and seventy-three times.  I feel that really takes away from the excellent instrumental harmonies that are going on and makes me notice how long the track is.  Caspian keeps its tradition of melding separate songs amazingly well, the progression of Halls of the Summer through Hickory ‘54 is almost seamless – reminiscent of their first EP.  I love it when albums are presented as a whole, rather than the sum of individual songs slapped together.  The closing track Fire Made Flesh is my favorite on the album, it exemplifies the sound of the album and finishes it on a high note. The production on this album should be aspired to by all up and coming post-rock bands on bandcamp.  The huge sound really separates the men from the boys. Overall I think this album will end up as one of the staples of this style of music, possibly showing a trend to incorporate more than the standards that permeate lesser bands’ offerings.  I call it a must buy, and the band is a must see live.  94%

JacobMoss–  “Some days life just seems so right. Others pick up where you leave off and it’s just great to feel alive! This is where “Halls of summer” will leave you to feel on Caspian‘s 2012 release ‘Waking season’. But it doesn’t stop there. In fact, that is the first simple highlight that I noticed about the album. The beginning piano and guitar riffs delicately invite a listening experience into this post rock world, like in the song “Hickory ’54”. The album is full of little additives here and there to improve a chill vibe that the sound of the album brings you. It’s more than something that you can just tell your friends about. One of those things you just have to experience to understand. The sound is actually more a positive feedback from the adventure you began and concluded long ago. It is very reminiscent and intact to have the feel of the climax of a story well told. With the semblances keeping you enjoying it to the extreme of being on the edge of your seat, waiting in curiosity for what comes next. As far as a score would go I would give the album an 86 percentile. The sound was good and imaginative, but I would have liked to see more change ups throughout the entire album. Not that they didn’t include change ups within every song.. I would have just for the sake of producing taken a leap and made the changes in every song more abstract. It would do justice in the very essence of completion, and even pronounce the album that much more. – 86%

Shooter “‘Waking Season’ is Caspian‘s first album since 2009’s ‘Tertia‘ and it also marks the first time that a studio recording has truly captured the potency of this group’s brand of guitar-based post-rock. Caspian‘s music has always been triumphant and enveloping, but with the poor production quality of their previous albums, one had to see the band live to properly experience their ever-present potential. Not anymore. ‘Waking Season’ is Caspian fully realized; a celebration of what can be achieved when four guitars are in synchronous conversation, and we’re just lucky enough to be able to overhear it. The sounds are majestic, and the climbs and falls as organic as ever. ‘Waking Season’ isn’t unique (it’s post-rock, through and through), but what it is, is a near-perfect encapsulation of everything that the genre has been aspiring to for the past decade. The best in post-rock since Mono‘s ‘Hymn to the Immortal Wind?’ Quite possibly.” – 92%

Bryan  “Caspian’s newest is a concoction that every fan of post-rock should listen to. Instead of hiding in the ease of slow build-ups and epic breakdowns, Caspian evolves into more substantial realms. The opening track ushers away the old ideas of post-rock progression with a quite abrupt halt and moves into an album that combines elements of post-rock, ambiance, and even a touch of drone. The drums are pronounced; the riffs flow, and the vocals (you read that right) are used not as a headline, but as an additional instrument. Gone In Bloom and Bough will most likely be pointed to as the album’s defining song with its ambient textures and absorbing rhythm. Don’t miss this album, it is one of the best you’ll hear this year.” 95%

IamHop – At this point I’m not sure what I can tell you that hasn’t already been said about Caspian. Their last release, ‘Tertia‘ produced a plethora of strikingly similar sounding albums from bands desperately seeking musical influence. It really comes as no surprise to me that Caspian opted for a much different direction with ‘Waking Season.’  That’s simply what great and innovative bands do. They don’t follow trends or play it safe. They branch out of the comfort zone and experiment in an attempt to constantly evolve. This is the next big evolution in the sound of the well oiled post-rock machine. ‘Waking Season’ is the culmination of a band that’s been on the cusp of excellence for a long, long time taking that final step to the mountain top. In so many ways I struggle for the right words to explain the sounds of songs like “Porcellous” and “Halls of the Summer.” because this is the type of music that is better experienced than explained. This is perhaps the best hour of post-rock that has ever been engineered inside the studio. There are no technical faults to be found. With some of the richest, deepest distortion and layering I’ve ever heard, an increased presence in electronic and glitchy elements and an album overflowing with colorful and full of life tones, ‘Waking Season’ is truly an unforgettable album that will continue to get better with age. The foundation has been broken and Caspian is yet again at the helm of another revolution. A must listen to album of 2012.  96%

Final Postrockstar.com Score: 93%

Available on Amazon and Itunes
Free streaming available on bandcamp: http://caspiantheband.bandcamp.com/album/waking-season

On the next Post-Rock Roundtable:  Godspeed You! Black Emperor – ‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!

Rogue Sounds – Jupiter and Beyond The Infinite – 81%

Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite cover art

Rogue Sounds started in 2008 ‘to create more accessible instrumental music’ and released a couple of demos and then their debut EP in 2010. They recently released this album, “Jupiter and Beyond The Infinite”, on March 10 of this year. I am happy to give this a listen and write a few words about my experience with it. The tag-line is right up my alley, boasting to incorporate pieces of electronica, space rock, post-metal and post-rock.

Straight out of the gate we are sent right into pulsing, vibrant beats. “Wormsign” showcases the band’s unique tone selection and tempts us with a faster tempo than more established bands tend to offer on an opening track. My favorite part of the song is the last minute or so when we are treated to spiraling guitars over a throbbing, staccato rhythm section. We’re immediately thrown into the next jet-fueled track without much downtime. “25th Parallel North” was the first track I had heard by Rogue Sounds, prompting me to hunt down their bandcamp page where I was glad to see ‘name your price.’ That means no agonizing decision, just grab a good quality file and put the headphones on. What I begin to notice in this second track is the use of synths to affect the atmosphere of the track. I’m starting to feel as if we’re spinning off into space, which may be due to the album title and cover art but enhanced by the subtle synth background use. The guitar work here is angular and interesting, weaving between static riffs and meandering picking, reminiscent of Russian Circles’ early work. We finally get some sort of outro at the end of this track to take a small breather after these uptempo songs. “Mission to the Sun” introduces synths over a drum machine, showing good range of instrument incorporation. It’s almost an 8-bit feel to the vocal harmony, definitely getting my head to bobbing – very organic and ethereal feel for all of these digitized instruments. I dig.

It’s time to rocket out of the atmosphere again when “Solar Nebula” opens to shimmering synth vibes layered behind driving guitar work. The song is sort of backwards, we start off really high then the band gradually leans back, gets comfortable and starts to groove. Midway, we’re treated to an interlude when silence engulfs us before repeating the reversed cycle of climax-build-gather. The second half of the song gets much more interesting as the guitarist treats us to some interesting loops, then the song ends suddenly. We’re thrown into what could almost be described as a dubstep intro for the track “Continuum Storm.” The drum machine appears to be broken and just randomly playing beats. The synths are the highlights here on this short track, which is only meant to warm us up for the closer, “LV-426.” The song slowly opens us, we have the same formula of atmospheric synths, a la God is an Astronaut, over shining guitars and pulsing beats, but the tone here feels much darker. The final few minutes seem to aspire to greatness, building on a theme and running with it. There’s a promise of something huge looming, but in the end I don’t get the release. I expected a heavier breakdown, possibly having to bang my head a little bit, but it doesn’t happen.

Overall it is a solid album, treading on ground rarely covered by this style of music, where we see incorporation of synths and electronic programming. The mood is mostly upbeat, ethereal and pulsating. The band shows us a range of movements in this short album, displaying skill with traditional instruments as well as incorporating some electronic elements, which is a welcome change for this style of music. – 10/3/12

You’ll find Rogue Sounds – Jupiter And Beyond The Infinite on their bandcamp page, name your price.
http://roguesounds.bandcamp.com/

Tell us what you think!

Sinobola – Idea EP – 86%

I’m introducing a young band founded in 2010 in Poltave, Ukraine, who started with the relatively simple setup of two guitars and drums but then quickly added a bassist to round out their sound. As we will soon discover their sound feels far from simple, even in this short three song EP.  I do not get a feeling of inexperience or lack of cohesion from these guys, it sounds as if they’ve been playing together for much longer than a couple of years.

Lovely tones greet us washed by distortion intermittently – I’m welcoming the tone selection.  Drums amp up the pace and it feels like we’re off to a great start for this short EP.  The main riff kicks in and it’s catchy as hell.  Building up to an impressive start, I’m not hearing anything terribly innovative but nor do I care at this point.  The length of the song seems appropriate, anything longer and we’d start to get a bit repetitious.  This is a great example of restraint and album engineering.

Second track starts off like a sound check but quickly we’re building up to a release that feels extremely powerful.  After the surge, I’m welcoming the twill of shimmering guitars we are all accustomed to in this genre.  I really dig the interplay between guitars in the mid-section of the track – layers on layers on top of a tight drumbeat, I have no complaints.  We have an excellent bridge, starting to notice the care they put into their sound, surprising from such a young band.  They’re invoking the post-metal traits of more well-known acts such as Long Distance Calling or Toundra.

Finally, the Estrangement begins with a deep groove which amps up the anticipatory level a good bit.  Towards the meat of the tune, we revisit the shining guitars for a moment before another buildup to what I refer to as a pseudo-climax.  They really show off their ability to transition between loud and quiet, which is essential to this style of music. Later on in the tune, we do get that release that was hinted at from the start.  The guitars get a biting tone, the drums really quicken the pulse and you’re forced to start bobbing your head.  By the end, you’re waving the devil horns in your hands and begging for more. 8/22/12

Their music is freely downloadable on their last.fm page:  http://www.last.fm/music/Sinobola

Jakarta Project – Beauty Lies In Lover’s Eyes – 81%

Beauty Lies In Lover's Eyes cover art

(IamHop  – Please welcome Bothra to Postrockstar! Bothra is a founding member of Post-Rock & Beyond on turntable.fm and brings a deep understanding and knowledge of the realm of Post-Rock to the site. He is the first of what I hope to be many contributing writers to the site in order to diversify reviews and catch up on our huge backlog of albums to review so that we can provide a faster turn-around time to new releases and bring other featured articles to the site. )

For my first review, I’m taking a look at Jakarta Project’s latest offering, Beauty Lies In Lover’s Eyes.  Released on August 13, this is the followup to Geographic, reviewed here back in July.  I find most of IamHop’s thoughts apply to this release as well.  This Russian band seems to be pretty busy this year in the studio.

Another short album, nearly an EP, this one clocks in around 30 minutes from six tracks.  The first thing I notice is the album cover, a pretty girl in the water with her eyes closed.  I wonder if this has significance since beauty, apparently, lies in her eyes – yet they are shut.  Is there no beauty, or is it something that will be revealed by listening to the album?  I guess we’ll find out.

Album opener – The Owl Song – greets us with heavily delayed and reverb rich acoustic guitars which come across cleanly and precisely.  I definitely get a feel for their unique sound and am reminded of a few tracks from Geographic as this short track washes over me.  It gets me excited to hear the rest of the album as any great intro should.   Unfortunately, it begins to feel haphazardly thrown together when the next track, LA Streets, starts us off with an electronic loop bleeding into some heavy riffs.  Here is when I first notice what is known as “the bandcamp sound” – the lack of production quality is apparent, but understandable for self-releases, especially from these less-than-established bands.  Typically, I can move past that and listen to what the artists were trying to convey.  Regardless of that, we have short bursts of riffs backed by a pulsing drumbeat giving away to a breakdown with an Indian vibe to it.  The electronic loop resurfaces at the end and suddenly there is a piano or keyboard towards the end of the track.  The third track feels like filler, with the lead guitar picking the melody over some clean delay loops and a meandering melody.

Maria’s Sunday Morning is probably the strongest track on the album for me.  We’re reminded of the album opener as this song starts us off with acoustic guitars working their way into the mix with another electronic loop.  The drums beat a pretty standard poppy 4/4 behind this interesting mix of electronic loops overlaid with pretty guitar work.  The build-up and punch remind me of God Is An Astronaut, while the melody is memorable it falls into the standard rinse-and-repeat trap.  The overall climax of the song is underwhelming, which could be due to production and we’re left with more electronics to lead us out to the next track.  Last Night in Tokyo revisits a disco beat, this time over light piano notes.  The main riff kicks in and I feel underwhelmed again, and the final crescendo shows promise of a heavy, rocking band but ends too quickly.  We’re left with the final track, Out Of Memories, which opens with sounds of a seashore.  This somber track is slow and dreamy, feels almost verse-chorus-verse without vocals.  It’s a pretty happy melody, kind of mellow and winds down leaving us back at the seashore listening to the waves.

Overall, a pretty standard release.  This band follows in the footsteps of Maserati’s middle releases – danceable beats with heavily delayed guitars providing the melody.  Where it fails is the lack of production quality and overall meandering between sounds.  We have acoustic guitars, electronic looping, heavy riffs, pianos, dance beats, cymbal riding and even a cowbell or two.  I felt confused on their direction but not totally disappointed.  If this band were to get some quality studio time with a seasoned engineer, I feel they could make a powerful record.  Still, with the album as pay-what-you-will via bandcamp, it should be digested by any fans of this genre. 8-17-12

Pay what you want on bandcamp:  http://jakartaproject.bandcamp.com/