Review Summary: A release that looks up to its inspirations and celebrates them together, without failing to find its own character.
Were The Ascent Of Everest ever short of money, I’m happy to say I feel they’d be the kind of person who would ask to borrow your money innocently, rather than sneak around and take it when you suspect the least. Listening in on the band’s debut, the influences appear plainly into the album the way a whole range of post-rock bands seem to accidentally manage; obvious hints of gloomy climaxes, political outrage and atmospheric passages are spread about the five tracks. However, as How Lonely Sits The City
plays, it becomes so easily engrossing that it retains a charisma of its own, and counts for something amidst its homage to the genre it resides in.
How Lonely Sits The City
shows a band more wanting to connect themselves to their influences than to all too quietly copy them. Unlike the bands choosing the latter path, The Ascent Of Everest present their own triumph in being near-always captivating, even if it isn’t an unprecedented means of doing it. In places, they portray post-rock’s need for something different – “A Threnody” may not bring anything new with Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s intense spoken word flair, however in that it is still a rare sight in the late post-rock trend, The Ascent Of Everest have continued something (for now) that remains brilliant. Mario Cuomo’s words of the 1984 Democratic National Convention float impressively above strings and simplistic guitar and, atmospherically, gift the album with its most charmingly disturbing moments. The pick of Cuomo’s words resemble the climactic music with an intensity of their own; Mr. President, if you asked a woman who had been denied the help she needed to feed her children because you said you needed the money for a tax break for a millionaire or for a missile we couldn't afford to use.
finally hands his overtly political address over to uproar and an intriguing session of repetitive cries of Not for honour/Not for country/Not for profit
disguised in strings - the piece’s backdrop falling into place and instrumentally imploding with the singing to cause a mesmerising wave that remains both accessible and grand.
Otherwise, it is left down to more typical instrumental domination to hold the album in one piece. In places this absolutely flies; “If I Could Move Mountains” is three slightly differentiated parts stapled together as emptily and darkly as the rest of the album to end it suitable. Bringing with it the atmosphere of the rest of the album crushed together by strings, “Majesty And Awe” suddenly suspends itself in nothingness with only the sounds of guitar and voices left to talk, later reunited by piano and leading into yet more atmosphere. “If I Could Move Mountains” is in this respect varied, and albeit not enough to really make it three separate parts, interludes of speedy guitar and continuous string work add catchiness to a fray of otherwise relentlessly increasing and decreasing loudness. This essentially gives another point to The Ascent Of Everest within their genre – their ability to make songs clocking at fourteen minutes or so less ‘long’ to newcomers of post-rock, a less daunting, more loose sound that can ease them into their superior contemporaries – better still for its still similar length (“If I Could Move Mountains” the prime example of this).
This is not to say How Lonely Sits The City
is without problems – its issues realistically are in the album being such a climax itself, with opening numbers in places dull and droning, and unable to disguise being dragged out. Unlike “A Threnody” or “If I Could Move Mountains”, the haze that is “Alas! Alas! The Breath Of Life!” sounds more programmed to the centre of an album, a centre which is taken up by the awesomely sharp interlude “Molotov” – and quite simply, The Ascent Of Everest does not need two central focuses. “As The City Burned…” too indeed feels dragged out, despite being the shortest track to be found – an immediate ‘epic climax’ opening too fast for six more minutes of the basic same climaxes randomly interrupted for effect to be interesting.
Aside from these sadly unavoidable issues, How Lonely Sits The City
has a broad mix of tried and tested post-rock ideas from Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s eeriness to subtle vocals of Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock
and even slightly Sigur Ros. It also glorifies the epic-scale it can and will be on. The impressiveness of the release is not so much its originality (which is obviously borrowed originality at that), however more its brilliance at making the long-winded feel natural and the first-time listener less apprehensive to the pretentiousness on hand. The Ascent Of Everest’s debut is definitely captivating, and leaves them free of any real expectations for however they wish to move along their ‘take’ on post-rock, if they choose to.