Review Summary: The ambient, atmospheric feel that GIAA provides is wonderfully executed, but ultimately does not sufficiently distance itself from similar artists.
Hailing from Ireland, God Is An Astronaut are a three-piece post-rock outfit whose 2006 EP, A Moment of Stillness
, somewhat deviates from the typical post-rock album: the five-track EP is barely over twenty-two minutes in runtime, which is rather unusual for a genre that is sometimes associated with longer song lengths. However, the ambient, atmospheric feel that God Is An Astronaut provides is wonderfully executed, with sweeping keyboards, searing synthesizers, and steady guitarwork, but ultimately does not sufficiently distance itself from similar artists.
A Moment of Stillness
opens with Frozen Twilight
, featuring soft keyboard and synth progressions before being complemented by clean electric guitar. As the introduction unfurls, there is a crescendo - a staple in the post-rock genre - that builds slowly but surely until a cymbal crash and a rollicking, march-like snare roll begins to push the track into more assertive territory. About halfway through the track, the keyboards and synths start to dominate, and combined with the simplistic yet firm guitarline, Frozen Twilight
hits its apex before falling to silence, and the clean electric guitar continues its main arpeggiated line. The keyboards and synths are gracefully filtered in, before giving way to A Moment of Stillness
in silence. The second track is much more guitar-oriented, and the percussion plays with more of an assured confidence, connecting the different mini-passages through the snare and cymbal. Eventually, the keyboards and synths begin to take over again, while an effect-laden guitar swirls amidst the atmosphere that had been progressively built.
The EP's middle track, Forever Lost (Reprise)
, begins with synthesizers and piano, and this introduction is one of the most alluring sections on the entire EP. Eventually, the guitars filter in, and the bass guitar plays more of an insistent role on the track for a short while. The track's crescendo is sustained for a few moments with liberal keyboards, synthesizers, and guitar, but then again drops to silence until a swift roll on the snare brings the track and the album back to another crescendo. The track's second crescendo is significantly more amplified, courtesy of a thick synthesizer sound that hits a higher range with each note, but the track again falls into silence.
and Crystal Canyon
bring the album to a close, and are the two shortest tracks on the EP. Both tracks take on the characteristic warm and ambient sensuality exhibited throughout the EP, and are again dominated by a fingerpicked electric guitar played over an ethereal synthesizer progression. The percussion on this album sounds like a baby's mobile, but then timpani rolls are added ever so elegantly before disappearing to abeyance. Crystal Canyon
, the finale, is a mere 2:00 in length, and concludes the album with a simple synthesizer and swirling winds.
Overall, A Moment of Stillness
is a captivating listen despite its incredibly short length. The EP still contains the prerequisite elements of post-rock, from the ambiance to the instruments, and the crescendos are present here as well. These crescendos, however, are not built with any vigorous authority. This can detract from the listening experience somewhat, but they are nevertheless evident throughout the album. The guitars implement the use of delay and reverb, which enhances the keyboards and synthesizers, and the percussion, when used, acts as a catalyst between movements. The keyboards and especially the piano in the introduction to Forever Lost (Reprise)
are splendid, and the synths definitely add an atmospheric dimension to the ambient feel found on the EP. Further, the segues between each track are also distinct: each track begins and concludes in silence. However, at such a laconic length, listeners are encouraged to experience A Moment of Stillness
from beginning-to-end in one sitting due to the pacing of the album as well as its length. In the end, the first EP from God Is An Astronaut is a beautiful listen, but can be easily forgotten due to its steadfast homogeneity.
... that you listen to this album from start-to-finish