9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 15 February 2007
Explosions In The Sky's track record of creating mesmirising sonic violence is almost unparalleled, but one thing that has eluded the band - until now - is the ability to translate the majesty of their hypnotising live shows to record.
All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone changes that, marking as it does a huge leap forward for the band, ditching the somewhat crystalline production of its predecessors in favour of broader instrumentation and more focussed, asperous production. With increased intensity than even its ferocious predecessor, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone almost completely blurs the lines between Explosions' recorded output and their extraordinary live shows.
The Birth And Death Of The Day clashes and coruscates like not just the beginning and end of the day, but the beginning and end of the universe. It's Natural To Be Afraid roars with a fierceness that few, if any, bands can match. The addition of piano on So Long, Lonesome and What Do You Go Home To? creates a beautiful, meditative picture, while the machine-gun snare on Catastrophe And The Cure is nothing short of incendiary.
Proving once again that bass, guitars and drums still allow for infinite possibilities, Explosions In The Sky manage to speak with more emotional resonance than a million bands with singers ever could.
34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on 5 April 2007
There are both good and bad points to the new Explosions in the Sky album.
On the plus side, the band once again subtly shifts its style. The delicate, chiming guitar work of `The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place' has been energized by a rawer, more live sound. Drums seem more in the mix, particularly when the opening track `The Birth and Death of the Day' kicks into gear.
Piano has been introduced to the band's repertoire with good effect, best shown on the teasingly short and beautiful album closer `So Long Lonesome'. Also, the musicianship throughout is of the highest order and I would imagine the band sound fantastic live.
Now the downside. I have owned this CD for several weeks and given it many careful listens. In my experience, Explosions albums are not immediately accessible, which is not a problem in itself (although how some Amazon reviewers can declare a CD to be a five-star classic after only owning it for a day is beyond me). However, there seem to be two real problems with the album.
Firstly, whilst I am an admirer of the band and the way they take rock's basic guitar/bass/drums template to wonderful new places, Explosions in the Sky seem to be struggling here against their self-imposed limitations. There is a sense that we have heard it all before.
Secondly, and more importantly, is the lack of real inspirational quality. As already mentioned, the first and last tracks are very good, and I also quite like `What Do You Go Home To?' and `Catastrophe and the Cure' but there are no catch-your-breath moments here to compare with `Greet Death' from `Those Who Tell the Truth..' or `Your Hand in Mine' from `The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place'. `Welcome, Ghosts' and ` It's Natural to be Afraid' fall particularly flat, the latter track even fizzles out into a dull feedback finish.
In my opinion, `Those Who Tell The Truth..' remains Explosions's strongest album. `All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone' is a good album but four records into their career and the quality is gradually declining not improving. Without adding vocals I am not sure where they go from here.
Still, reviewing the album in isolation, it is worth three stars, no more no less. I suspect the hardcore fans will slate this review but I have tried to offer a balanced, honest view, I hope you found it helpful.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2007
Explosions had hitherto just been one of those slightly formulaic and certainly basic post-rock additions to my cd collection. "Those Who Tell The Truth..." was raw and powerful (albeit slighted dated these days), and, while "The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place" certainly found a Mono 3rd album-esque spurt towards genuine individuality, it wasn't especially in a direction that interested me. I found the whole band a tad too repetitive to ever consider showering praises on them. Enter this record.
I bought it out of habit mainly, but incredibly (for a band of their ilk), after merely one listen, I knew it was the best record they had ever produced (bar the first one, which I don't actually own, but can't imagine is all that special...). The cinematic, grandiose opening gives way to triumphant chords and some disconcertingly Pelican-esque drumming (not a fan of that), but this is the one time the drummer falters. Rather than being content to sit back and groove, he finally seems to have acknowledged the power of his instrument to alter the feel of any section, regardless of the guitars. This is particularly noticeable in the first movement of track 2. Thereafter this track wanes, but before one's attention lapses the haunting swaythes of track 3 captivate. This is the first time Explosions have strayed from anything other than neutral or positive sounding music. This is a brooding, ominous, piano-laden introduction. but the track tells us "it's natural to be afraid", and the soothing connotation therein soon reveals itself in the guitar-driven second movement, before building into a crescendo of shimmering, relentless, duel-soloing guitars. It's the sound of a thousand icicles shattering in the wake of a rising sun, and is the album's pinnacle.
Track 4 lulls everything into a more relaxed pace quite beautifully. The day is undergoing the routine of nature - bees are buzzing around buds, rays slowly saturate a garden, cascades of rain fall on the delicate petals of flowers, before the un-obtrusive percussion makes itself almost felt rather than heard, and suddenly it all withers away before ever really beginning. Exquisite. A harshly strummed guitar enters. A melody springs up. A cymbal is brushed with freneticism, yet restraint. The tension in these few bars is unbearable. Suddenly the release: a pounding rhythm thunders in, coupled with the most life-affirming melody Explosions have ever divined - it tumbles down the mountain, cascading the listener in an avalanche of euphoria. If only "catastrophe and the cure" remained as strong as these first 2 minutes throughout its too-lengthy duration, it would be the song of their career.
Track 6 ends the album on a pleasant but slightly subdued anti-climax. When the drums and bass finally creep in with the piano, the chord never changes. There's no final hook to draw you in. If anything though, it's clever musicianship. It leaves the hunger.
No, they haven't changed the formula for this record. Aside from the greater prevalance of piano, instrumentation is a simplistic is ever. However, they have finally crafted their landscape soundtracking to a beautiful and intricate degree. The pacing on this record is sublime - its ebbs and flows perpetuate the NEED to listen and, for the first time ever, the mood changes with the dynanicism. It sounds as though they constructed the entire album conceptually. A wonderful and surprising achievement.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 25 August 2007
One of the best crescendo/post rock albums ever and the best release by far by the Explosions. I don't have the words to describe how beautiful the sound on this album is. Just about every track sends shivers up my spine. The album is a slow burner and will take two or three listens to bed in, but I think this is my top Album of 2007.
Also check out God Speed You Black Emperor (Lift Yr. Skinny Fists Like Antenna) as well if this kind of sound does it for you.
Coming to the band rather late this was the first cd of theirs I bought. I've subsequently bought the others in reverse order. To me this is easily their best recording and if someone said they were new to the band, this is the one I would recommend. As I've listened to the other CDs I like them less the earlier they were released. This seems to be the opposite of most people's experience on here which is interesting. It could be there is only limited mileage in the band no matter what order you buy the albums in. However, listening to and being disappointed by the earlier albums has not decreased my appreciation of this one. What I particularly like about this one is I really engage with the theme: loneliness with a hint of hope. Post rock often has a post apocalyptic feel to it but there is a particularly strong sense of an "I am Legend" / "Last Man on Earth" / "The Quiet Earth" experience going on here.
In a clever reverse of post rock conventions "The Birth and Death of the Day" starts with an explosion of sound and then settles down to calm reflection. This track suggests to me an acceptance after the disaster and a settling into a new routine.
"Welcome Ghosts" is a haunting piece as our last man feels the ghosts of the departed around him.
After the low key "It's Natural to be Afraid", the last 3 tracks pick up the pace.
"Catastrophe and the Cure" is a superb upbeat and determined cacophony or crashing cymbols and jangling guitars suggesting a new idea or purpose. Hope of a cure for whatever happened perhaps.
So long lonesome is a pretty, soothing farewell perhaps to the lonely man who we hope has found peace.
on 30 March 2008
Without words Explosions in The Sky manage to take you on incredibly lyrical and emotive journeys. This loud band from Austin Texas have always done this, have been smothered in critical praise for doing so, but are now doing it better than ever before. With merely guitars, bass, drums and a little piano, the symphonic majesty of their compositions feel like the odyssey of a great culture hero passing through an ordeal that promises rewards as great as salvation itself. Homer would surely have considered it a fine accompaniment to his epic tale. They tell us that it usually takes them months to compose even a single track, and after a few years work, even an album of a mere six songs is ample reward for all their conscientious efforts. This really is a remarkable piece of work, and news of its release was a day of wondrous anticipation for me. My immediate purchase was also further rewarded by an additional album of remixes by the likes of Four Tet, Adem, Jesu (aka Justin Broadrick who first rose to prominence with Godflesh in the late 80s), Mountains and Eluvium, every one of which works with, rather than against, the original material, staying true to the ethos of its original creators. This album really will enrich your life, and without it you'll be condemning yourself to spiritual impoverishment!
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 24 February 2007
What's to say about this? I could say of course that if you like Explosions in the Sky already (I do) then I'll guarantee that you'll like this, on the other hand if you didn't like their previous efforts then this'll probably fail to move you. If you are stumbling upon them for the first time what are Explosions in the Sky? Basically this is guitar-centred post rock. It's got all the post rock hooks in it - quiet-loud-quiet, long tracks that meander, tracks with incredibly pretensious names, lack of singing. Is it as good as their previous output? Yes.
I don't pretend to know what the hell this is all about by the way. From the title I guess it could be about loneliness, poignancy, solitude, loss or other things. To be honest it could be about going down the shops for all I know. But.....the music is good! It sounds a lot like their previous albums but I guess there are two ways that a band can go. 1. They could change and develop over time constantly re-inventing themselves a la David Bowie or 2. They can stick with the same winning formula because they and others like it. In that respect Explosions show little willingness to change and progress. Where they have changed is in the inclusion of a lot of piano here particularly in the excellent "What do you go home to" and the short (for Explosions) "So Long Lonesome".
It's a very good album if you like post rock though I doubt it will appeal beyond their current following. (8/10)
on 14 June 2009
This like some of Silver Mount Zions titles has a wonderful, mysterious and evocative title which reflects the instrumental contents that lie within.
It's a wonderful, atmospheric peice of intricate, sensitive work that combines craftmanship and imagination.
Unlike other fellow travellers down the post rock, math rock, symphonic route, the variations in dynamic aren't so intense as for instance in the oeuvre of early Mogwai, the thunderous 65 days of static or the more metallic cadences of Red Sparrowes or Pelican. They remind me somewhat of a generation of earlier explorers on the sonic classical/prog rock interface- Brian Eno, Harold Budd, King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Fripp.
They create passages of real beauty and calm wtih appropiate titles- "Welcome, ghosts" and "so long lonesome" that add up to that feelin- "all of a sudden I miss everyone"- a concept album?
Explosions in the skys latest opus falls short on a consistent level of quality as was more or less attained on previous album 'the earth is not a cold,dead place'.
This is an album that has some wonderful crescendos and beautiful and soaring melodies and is rich enough in ideas,in fact with the introduction of keyboard a new dawn has awoken for the band but the flaws are obvious to me.
The problem is in not taking advantage of the soundscape that they create,needless feedback from amps interrupts the flow of the odd track and leaves it slightly ugly and in post rock that isnt the idea and the odd track just doesnt have focus stamped throughout but all in all this is a solid album but wont melt many souls.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 July 2007
Overall, I found this quite a disappointing record, hence the three stars. I bought it based on 'The Earth is Not...' whose five songs were all of the highest quality.
So where does this record fall short? Well, EiTS again go for a short number of tracks (six), but at least two of these songs just don't pass muster (the relatively short 'So Long...', 'What Do You...'), two are average (the lightweight 'Welcome, Ghosts', 'Catastrophe and the Cure'), which leaves you with only two memorable tracks. I think the problem is that the band hasn't really developed their sound or taken many risks with their style. The album does have a more punchier feel, with less reverb than the previous album and more distorted tones with the guitar, but it just feels unconvincing in places because the band are so clearly going over old ground.
'Catastrophe', for instance, starts of with a real sense of urgency and some fantastically taut drumming, but after the second repetition you sense a malaise creeping in. The song fails to bring itself back up to the emotional tenor of the beginning. 'Welcome, Ghosts' again has some nice moments, shifting mood with some fantastic alternations between loud/quiet - but, once again, the song fails to come to a satisfying conclusion. Opening track 'The Birth and Death of the Day' fares better than both and has its structure absolutely spot on. There is also some fraut guitar playing and drum rolls in the song's crescendo. I would rate this song amongst their good stuff.
But the album does have one absolute stand-out, 'It's Natural to be Afraid'. It's split into three sections and goes from ambient/piano/feedback storm in the first section, to a clutch of twinkling, delicate melodies in the middle, before finishing things off with an absolutely breathtaking distorted outro. Basically, EiTS have their structure right in this song and they have the melodies to back it up. This is what they can do when they want to, and the emotional power is up there with anything they have on the previous record. There is an integrity to the melodies that isn't there on songs like 'So Long, Lonesome', which makes me think this album is a bit of a let down.
I just think that after this album the band may have to look at ripping up their rulebook. Despite the excellence of 'It's Natural...' there is a sense of a lack of an ideas, or the band maybe feeling that they have to revert to type or something. They are a cut above most of the post-rock bands out there but they need to try something different or they will fall into self-parody.