A few years ago, I went on an instrumental rock buying spree and picked up several titles from different bands that all seemed to represent similar methodology: creating sweeping soundtracks of majestic proportions that could bring even the most instrumentally inept listener to tears.
A lot of the albums I acquired from that purchased were quickly forgotten (Rumah Sakit, anyone?) but one of the bands, Explosions In The Sky, seemed to have something very special. Only them and Godspeed You Black Emperor! prompted enough interest for me to pull out my wallet again and follow their subsequent releases.
Anyone familiar with the band’s previous instrumental explorations will feel at home with their latest, All Of A Sudden, I Miss Everyone, as the band frequently follows the same formula that brought them their initial acclaim. In all honesty, so much of it continues with those familiar loud/quiet song cycles (or vice-versa) that listeners will probably need to check the spine of the cd jewel box to determine what EITS album they’re playing.
This would be extremely frustrating if EITS was a band that noodled endlessly just for the sake of noodling. Thankfully, they’re a band that understands that instrumental post-rock done right can project the same kind of emotional reaction as a great lyric. And to that point, EITS are one of the most emotive bands, instrumental or not, around today.
Running nearly a quarter-hour long, “It’s Natural To Be Afraid” is the best example this poignancy. The song swirls about with some nice guitar atmospheres for over six minutes before the drums are finally introduced. It’s just a teaser, as the restraints are pulled back until around the nine minute mark when all hell breaks loose with a pair of upper-guitar neck crescendos placed above drummer Chris Hrasky’s snare snaps and incessant crash cymbals. When the controlled chaos finally subsides, the listener is left with two minutes of quiet backward guitar pulses, before the entire thing fades to black. It’s a beautiful endeavor and it’s the centerpiece of the album.
“What Do You Go Home To?” finds these Texans gingerly tiptoeing towards uncharted territories with a prominent piano pattern replacing the band’s signature guitar dynamics. As promising as this seems, the track fails to achieve liftoff. Rather than breaking new ground, the band sounds unsure of where to go with the new direction, and we’re left with five minutes of calming ambience perfectly suitable as a music bump after a heavy topic on NPR’s All Things Considered.
I’ve come to the conclusion that my problem with Sudden isn’t really with the album itself, but with me already having a spiritual awakening with one of their earlier efforts. Sudden is certainly on par with their previous efforts, so newcomers may indeed be able to find their own faith with the latest.
For me, it sounds like a sermon I’ve already heard.