Review Summary: If you’re one who requires creativity of this genre in order to listen, I’d suggest passing this by. If you are looking for a relaxing and enjoyable experience, You Who Pretend to Sleep makes the cut.
Stepping into my truck this morning I encountered a small puzzle. Facing a sturdy 20-25 minute drive to church, what music should I play? Not a dramatic problem, still, the length of the trip demanded a genuine answer. Deciding to sample something new, I began with Blotted Science’s The Machinations of Dementia
. Just two minutes in I decided I was a bit too tired for such cerebral and brutal rock. So, I found Joy Wants Eternity.
Joy Wants Eternity is a five-piece instrumental group hailing from Seattle, WA. Formed back in 2003, they are known for combining dynamic soundscapes with corresponding videos and other media in their live shows. Their first EP, Must You Smash Your Ears Before You Learn To Listen With Your Eyes
, consisted of five durable post-rock tracks, intertwining explosive and soothing musical events. Their full length debut You Who Pretend to Sleep
was released in May of 2007.
In modern times it has become customary to speak of the stale flavor the post-rock genre has acquired. Complaints of carbon copy groups and too formulaic climaxes are tossed about in a loquacious manner. The irreverent light cast on the group is to some extent deserved, but I am of the opinion that like in all genres there are a score of bands ranging from great to terrible. Post-rock is no exception, and there are enough great ones that I am not prone to criticism. Joy Wants Eternity fall somewhere in the middle of the picture; trivial if judged solely on creativity, they, like their contemporaries play on the movement from taciturn to volatile, with the result as beautiful as ever.
You Who Pretend to Sleep
opens forcefully with “Existences Rust”. The distorted guitar chords are spell out a continual progression, but clever drum work really drives the song along. An aggressive track, it is most effective when played at high volumes and will please those jaded by slow builds. Myself, I much prefer “About the Clouds Lies Eternal Sun”. The intro is one of the most beautiful moments on the album, repeating a short phrase with simple percussion and solid guitar work. After it is completed the track shifts into one of the moments of sonic bliss perpetuated by EITS and friends; a modest one, it nattily avoiding exaggeration, settling at a comfortable level before quieting. “From Embrace to Embrace” is a forceful and euphonic track. It combines an aggressive, tight, rhythmic feel with very pretty melodies. “Death Is a Door That Opens” begins subtly with two minutes of quiet reverberating noise. Eventually melodies are incorporated and the music increases volume with a short and almost timid climax. Six minutes in length, it is the second longest track on the album, beaten only by “From Embrace to Embrace” which spans just 6:24. Not long by conventional standards, and almost short for post rock, the brevity is welcome creating direct and focused tracks. “What Lies Beyond” begins similar to “Death Is a Door…”, with an echoic intro brimming with reverb and delay. Unlike the preceding track, it contents to wear that delicate texture until the end. “Yet Onward We Marched” starts immediately with guitar melodies over swelling chords. Percussion introduces a simple motif and then the song explodes, raging in a hurricane of sound. It is over as quickly as it started, and the candor in that is especially satisfying. “Uriel” enters faintly with atmospheric tones before guitar melodies seize the helm. Next the noise collapses and there is a beautiful section featuring chime-like percussion. It slowly rebuilds energy with a bridge section kidnapped straight out of the post-rock Bible; as wonderful as ever, I’m not one to complain. Then it dies out a bit quicker then you might expect. “You Are the Vertical, You Are the Horizon” is a dynamite closer. Very direct, it uses a poignant chord progression and a simple but affecting melody. Yet again, the group shies away from aggrandizement, preferring to give you brief satisfaction, cutting before it becomes wearing. It is a choice move by the group that invites repeated listens.
That summary is a pretty straight account of all that the album contains; eight solid and basically faultless tracks, focused enough for satisfaction and laconic enough to avoid exhausting. That pithiness is the real treat of the album. If you’re one who requires creativity of this genre in order to listen, I’d suggest passing this by. If you are looking for a relaxing and enjoyable experience, You Who Pretend to Sleep
makes the cut.
Yet Onward We Marched
From Embrace to Embrace