Review Summary: Epic post rock that's not really that epic.
A note to those starting a band: Do not reference Godspeed You! Black Emperor in your name if you are not going to sound anything like them. Doing so sets up certain expectations from your target audience, and being that that audience probably cries themselves to sleep every night to “BBF3,” almost anything you churn out will be a disappointment. See: canyonsofstatic, a Wisconsin quartet prone to glorious climaxes and beautiful tunes etc., etc. According to their press release, canyonsofstatic (not to be confused with 65daysofstatic or the Godspeed suite “Terrible Canyons of Static”) are ”Epic post-rock instrumental melodies mixed with monstrous walls of sound.
The Disappearance sounds like an orchestra with a mountain of guitars crashing on top of it.
Though that description is certainly pretentious enough to conjure images of Godspeed, don’t be fooled: The Disappearance
, canyonsofstatic’s debut record, sounds more like a bump in an otherwise severely flattened path than guitars having sex with symphonies or whatever their label says. It’s all so familiar: songs build on “dramatic” themes, guitarists wank on effect pedals, drummers wail on crash cymbals, and occasionally keyboards pop up to add texturing. Not to say it’s not all very skillfully done; it is. But canyonsofstatic's album runs from start to finish almost without any significance whatsoever. “Maps and Mazes” opens the record in the clouds somewhere, and The Disappearance
never comes back down to earth. Instead, canyonsofstatic float on, slowly changing shape but never really doing anything all that interesting.
Though there are some stimulating moments on The Disappearance
(the sudden left turn in “Shelter” or the keenly executed climax on “1:17” serve as key examples), those moments are too few and too far between to propel The Disappearance
past mediocrity. Most of The Disappearance
consists of guitarist Ross Severson finding a nice melody and letting it grow as the whole band plays slightly louder, all the while sounding like some other post rock band, except worse. To their credit, canyonsofstatic know their way around their instruments (the drums in particular are ace, courtesy of Nate Gaffney), and Severson can work EQs with the best of them, but the problem with The Disappearance
is song construction. Through seven eerily similar tunes, the album meanders and grows tired. When the serene “Slowly to Sea” comes around to wrap up the record on what should be a blissfully sweet note, The Disappearance
has gone by so inconsequentially, the effect is lost. Canyonsofstatic stresses the fact that they’re completely instrumental: no singers, no epic choir, nothing. They say this omission keeps the focus on the music, but since the music can’t maintain focus, The Disappearance
gets pretty dull pretty quickly.
There’s not much to say about The Disappearance
, which is perhaps its greatest flaw. This review could have been condensed into “epic post rock that’s not really that epic” and chances are you would know exactly what this sounds like. Canyonsofstatic have potential, and with time could flesh out into something truly remarkable, but right now, they’re simply another interesting looking name in a sea of bands that sound good by themselves, average in context.