I bought this album on a whim, expecting some serious instrumental post-rock in the vein of the usual suspects - not that it'd be such a terrible thing, of course, it's just nice to see something different crop up. However, I was pleasantly surprised by what was a very different take on the usual 'quite to loud' dynamic, creating something that was similar to other artists, yet somehow very distinctive. In fact, I wouldn't even describe Silver Ray as a primarily post-rock outfit. I'm surprised there's no review yet - I'll do my best to help out!
It's always difficult to describe this sort of sound, but Silver Ray make it a little easier by incorporating plenty of nice piano lines that border on outright lounge or jazz melodies at times, meshing well with very restrained and appropriate guitar lines. Restraint does seem to be the name of the game throughout the album, and despite that it really does feel as though the band have managed to jam their way to six excellent tracks, building up from basic ideas into fully fledged epics, all live in the studio. The first two lengthy tracks in particular demonstrate this very well, somehow transforming a sound that would be more at home in a laid-back jazz bar into something that occupies ten minutes of space very well, despite never straying into the trap of overstaying their welcome. They don't sound cinemtic or orchestral in arrangement like Godspeed!, being a little too minimalist for that - the closest that I can get is applying a delicate, tasteful jazz touch to the post-rock stylings of a band like Mogwai at their softest.
Track 3 displays a change of gears with a hugely evocative, wistful guitar melody that seems to conjure up images of desolation and hope at the same time - strangely, it reminded me very much of Mark Knopfler's 'Local Hero / Wild Theme' in tone. Combining this with some layered ambience boosted the atmospherics of the track and the following one, seeming both organic and lively at the same time, a rare feat even for the more downtempo artists out there - it actually reminded me of Gas or Loscil at times. I won't analyse all the tracks in depth for the sake of (relative!) brevity, but hopefully this gives a decent idea of what the band's about. I can't help but feel relaxed and comfortable when listening to Silver Ray's music, and whilst they never push the envelope unduly, it's a pleasure to listen to. I feel in particular that the piano is underused hugely in post-rock music, and it being applied liberally here is fantastic to see.
A very nice hybrid of jazz, post-rock and ambience is on display here, a quiet excursion into 'headspace music'. I've no idea how Silver Ray have progressed since this, their first album, but if they've stayed true to their sound then only good things could have sprouted from a fine debut. They only just miss out on top marks as a few bits and pieces sound a bit too raw and brittle for my tastes, but it doesn't detract from the overall experience much at all. I'll certainly be checking out the rest of their discography as soon as I can!Read more ›