Posted onNovember 24, 2014
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This is one of those rare albums that stood out to me during my slumming session through the new albums tagged as post-rock on bandcamp. For the mast part, it’s pretty easy to tell when something isn’t actually post-rock just by looking at the tags. I cannot tell you how many times I didn’t even bother clicking play because I saw so many tags that weren’t post-rock. Dust Sculptures hit all the right notes with tags like Shoegaze, Progressive, Black Metal, Experimental, and Post-rock. I will be among the first to tell you that all of these tags are accurate.
Just looking at the bandcamp page, you can immediately tell that he’s put a lot of effort into this album, seeing how the track titles themselves tell a story of sorts. “Far above the pines lies the youngest mountain, where we left something in the snow. Subtle thing under the canopy of trees, breathing life into these tired lungs.” Right away I knew this was something very special.
This one man band from Nashville seamlessly ties together so many genres at once, it’s really hard to describe him in a small amount of words. At one point you could go from experimental soundscapes to chilled out jam sessions, to blistering blast beats all withing the span of a minute. It’s a roller coaster of sounds, and what a thrilling ride it is.
Josh Marberry, the man behind the music, really showcases his skills and talents in the opening track, ‘Far Above The Pines’. It begins with a very heavy influence from post-rock, with tremolo guitars in the distance moving to layered guitars, in a very post-metal sort of groove. Layered voices, all belonging to Josh, sing of the Pines in a very heavenly tone. It’s very simple harmonies, but he pulls it off well. The mellow sounds eventually give way to heavier, more metallic influences. And then he goes full out black metal.
And I haven’t even covered the first half of the first track.
In all of its 13 minutes, not a single second has gone unperfected. Every single track of this album is exactly the same in regards to attention to detail. Everything is very deliberate without feeling too forced. The sudden transitions from electric guitars to acoustic aren’t jarring at all, proving an extremely strong sense of structure.
Since we’re on the topic of structure – Remember those track titles? Each sentence takes up about half of the album. Once one sentence is over, the album feels like it’s been flipped over; like flipping a record on a turntable. There are no words to describe my excitement about this detail. To most, it would go unnoticed. Back in the day, artists would take the size of a vinyl record into consideration and make two sides of an album; two sides of the same coin. I don’t know if that’s what Josh had in mind, or if it’s completely by accident, but I love this album all the more for it. The “Sides” are in fact too big to fit on one side of a 12″ 33rpm vinyl record, but the concept itself doesn’t go unappreciated.
This is a remarkable album, forged by a remarkable musician. A true artist with a true work of art. This doesn’t deserve to be tied to any one genre, it doesn’t deserve to be heard by any one group of fans. Anyone and everyone who enjoys masterful music should listen to this magnificent piece and bask in its genius. Listen to it now and listen to it played loud.
City of Heracleion is the most recent release from Futurerecordings, an experimental label from the UK. I immediately knew that this was something I should at least try out, because they’ve had a pretty good track record with bands like Years of Rice and Salt, and The End of The Ocean.
The album consists of two purely enormous songs, both clocking in at just over twenty minutes. It reminds me of the first time I found Godspeed You! Black Emperor. “What, 17 minutes long, how is that even possible?!” But just like my experience with F#A#Infinity, my skepticism was melted away into awe after being immersed into a lush atmosphere of noises and textures.
With that, this album is probably the heaviest I’ve reviewed outside of the Those Amongst Us Are Wolves roundtable. It’s a very thick sound, which makes for easy listening after the airy intro. Everything just surrounds you and penetrates you with its heaviness. And I will be the first to say that I am by no means a Doom Metal fan, but this is something I can really get behind. This is a musical journey that no one should miss out on. If any album of 2014 deserves a vinyl pressing, it is this album right here.
(Even if you don’t care for this album, be sure to check out futurerecording’s bandcamp, there are so many other genres on display there. I highly recommend Years of Rice and Salt.)
On the opposite end of things, Sine of Life is anything but thick and heavy. With its heavy usage of the Acoustic Guitar and its simple structures, it’s quite homey. It’s warm and inviting, loving and intimate. It’s been so long since I’ve heard the Acoustic guitar used for post-rock in such a central manner. To top it off, they from my home state! To be honest, when I saw the ‘Idaho’ tag on bandcamp, I was expecting the worst. There’s something about this state that makes for so much terrible music. Might have to do with the fact that Idaho has the highest mental retardation rates in the USA…
This music is the soundtrack for someone like me in a cafe, writing about music like this. It’s too chill to not be in a cafe. Even when they do use the electric guitar, it has a very laid back role in the overall sound. My only issue are the fake instruments, but they’re understandable when you live in the small, small town of Jerome, Idaho.
It’s the most charming little album you’ll ever find, and I cannot emphasize enough the fact that you should listen to both of these beautiful, though varied, albums.
Next week: Sundry Commentary pt. II
Manchester, UK’s Cotidal have a noble goal. “…pushing metal in as many different directions as possible!” Sound cool, right? Well so does their debut full length Lunar Day, although it falls short of their mission statement.
I found the guitar interplay to be the most enjoyable thing about this release, so it didn’t come as a surprise to me that the two guitarists, Nick Rutter, and Mark Parkinson, were the founding members of this still growing band (as of this writing they’re still looking for a vocalist, according to their Facebook.)
The album is fairly well put together, although the second half resonates a lot more to my taste, being a little heavier. After the intro song, “Are We Breathing” Cotidal dial it back a bit with a three movement arc entitled “Pillars.” While it’s certainly not bad, it is a bit overwrought, and suffers from some poor effects choices and a theme that isn’t all that intriguing.
The potential of this band is shown off very well in two of the later tracks. Both “Saatu” and “Constellations” are very nicely done, even though for the most part they show the two poles of the band. “Saatu” is nice and heavy off the bat, with underlying delicacy and a sense of epicness. “Constellations,” on the other hand, is a more gentle building experience. “Aula,” the final track, is just an all around great song. It stands out from the other tracks in an identifying way.
Production is for the most part able, although sometimes the guitars come off a bit shrill in an unintentional way. The octave effects they use to play higher harmonies on some of the songs annoy my ear. The intention I understand, but the effect itself sound cheap and rinky-dink. Though the bass is underplayed a bit in the mix, I enjoyed it when I sussed out the lines. For the most part the drums are mixed well, with a fairly hefty kick sound when needed, which I liked quite a bit. I would feel remiss in not mentioning the great cover art here, as it is arguably part of “production.”
The potential here is close to realized. These guys mix instrumentations intelligently and write well. I have no clue how a vocalist would make any of this better, so I’m going on record as saying to Cotidal that they don’t need one at all, unless this isn’t the style of music they enjoy playing. I have a feeling if the get to do some more work and a few gigs this band will just get tighter and better. Lunar Day is worth a few listens, if only to glimpse what may come in the future from Cotidal.