Review Summary: Flat, boring, and uninspired post-rock with no concept of melody.
As much as I love some of the gems of the post-rock genre, I’ll admit it. All in all, post-rock sucks. It is overdone, way too pretentious, and hard to grasp a foothold because just about everything possible with the music has already been done. For that reason, I can’t even bring myself to listen to the lesser post-rock and review it negatively. It is just too boring. Finally, I’ve at least found post-rock that is listenable, although terribly unoriginal and repetitive. The Six Parts Seven are from Ohio, but it might be more fitting to place them in Kansas. They fit right in the middle of the post-rock realm, with a slight influence from Tortoise, Low, Slint, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, and just about every other major post-rock artist to ever record. Guitars dominate their sound, but they do not limit themselves to strictly guitars. They pull in vibraphone, piano, trumpet, banjo, and electric lap steel to add inflections to their subdued and low-key sound.
Casually Smashed to Pieces is the band’s seventh full length album, and it sounds like it. The band sounds tired, uninspired, and rather bored with the music, as if they have been doing the same thing for years. The album does very little in terms of dynamics, only reaching maybe two climaxes on the entire album and even those climaxes are boring and weak. Their idea of a climax is simply switching one of the instruments to distortion and allowing that alone to be the climax. Everything else essentially stays the same. They apply this technique in Knock at My Door
and Awaiting Elemental Meltdown
. The latter is made even worse by the band completely stopping just before the actual climax would take place. On an album with abundant climaxes, this would work well as a change of pace, but Casually Smashed to Pieces desperately calls for a big climax somewhere, but it never comes.
For that reason, the best moments on this album are the quiet ones. The album’s longest track, Confusing Possibilities
, reaches its best points in the beginning of the track with beautiful, harmonized trumpet melodies. The drummer plays incredibly tastefully with quiet rim clicks instead of hammering the snare. Throughout the entire album, he tries to push the band to new dynamics with his drumming, but the band never fully responds to his callings. The album opens and closes with shorter tracks, mostly guitar-based. These tracks, meant to be subdued and subtle throughout, work extremely well. The guitar interplay is fantastic, most notably on Conversation Heart
and Night Behind the Stars
. However, these moments are too little. Those tracks combine to be 3 and a half minutes long, and by the end of the album the guitar interplay gets old. There is never a moment on the album where the guitars slow down and use simplicity. As a whole, the band plays in one slow tempo throughout the album. With the ambiguous, constant guitar interplay and unvarying tempos, the album plays like one flat song.
The Six Parts Seven are masters of guitar interplay, but they have no conception of melody or the overall contour of a song or album. Throughout the entire album, there is nothing to grasp onto and nothing to take away from the listen. In the broad scope of post-rock music, The Six Parts Seven are just another band with nothing special to offer.