US - Texas - Full Moon 93 - 05/04/04
Explosions in the Sky
The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place
Spunk/Bella Union/Temporary Residence
The sky is white and it feels like winter here in Melbourne even though it's autumn. I'm not
ready for cold like this; my extremities ache with it and I can't get out of bed once I've managed
to muster that gorgeous soft-focus foetal warmth. It's clearly not the right time to start listening
to the new Of Montreal album. But Explosions in the Sky - that's more like it.
The sound is consistent much of the way through - two guitars, bass, drums - and the production
clothes the instruments in reverb. It's a pleasing 'live' sound, and gives the feeling of a band
jamming in a room. All forty-five minutes feel like they've been played straight through with minimal
tinkering or overdubs. The five songs all sound like they're in the same key; the changes in pace
are predictable but well handled - for a post-rock album it's a good listen.
It begins with "First Breath After Coma" which sounds amazing. The bleep of a heart monitor is
simulated by a guitar, and backed up by the gentle 'lub-dup' of a bass drum heartbeat. The twin
guitar lines rise and intertwine beautifully, backed by a lovely bass, and the song progresses
through several brilliantly anthemic passages. The use of clean guitars put through delay pedals
is lovely - and fuck do I love the sound of clean guitars put through delay pedals. The track backs
off slightly around halfway, then slowly builds to a modest crescendo in a fog of crunchy feedback.
It's an impressive opener. Sadly it's the only track I've returned to repeatedly on this record.
The melodies elsewhere are nice enough, but unfold predictably, and there are minutes at a time
when you are waiting for something more interesting to happen: perhaps the introduction of some
new instruments or a swirly feedback breakdown. But no. Just tastefully handled progressions, waxing
and waning in a stately, pleasant fashion.
That's part of the problem: it's pretty good for a post-rock album, but not quite great in its
own right. For example, it's nowhere near the league of stuff like Do Make Say Think or the best
of Mogwai, and I find little impetus to return to albums like this. A shame, as I love that first
Copyright © 2004 Tim Clarke