3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
all of a sudden they surprised me,
This review is from: All Of A (Audio CD)
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.