Review Summary: Its basically gloomy post rock...without the monotonous feel of gloomy post rock...
Post Rock is a genre that is notorious for either being breathtakingly beautiful and marvelously epic, or profoundly boring and monotonous, depending on which side of the proverbial fence you're standing on. At first glance, many Post Rock ablums may seem like never-ending expanses of horribly bland soundscapes, but I implore you to listen more closely. To fully grasp many Post Rock albums, one needs to do a little bit more than simply throw on the record and halfheartedly wait around for something to jump out and grab them. Post Rock is a genre that requires the listener to fully immerse themselves in the atmospheres and textures contained within the expansive soundscapes presented, to fully embrace each droning note, each swell of sound, and each undulating beat, and cheesy though it may be, its what gives many Post Rock albums the ability to be so profoundly beautiful (as well as profoundly boring if not done properly). As far as I know, there really isn't another way to fully
grasp a Post Rock album, and Aspe's Spirit is no different.
Spirit is one of the few albums I have encountered that could be described as drawn out, and have it be a positive. The gloomy atmospheres and seemingly drawn out songs give the whole album a sort of longing feeling, which fits perfectly with the nearly constant rising and falling of the music itself, which I can only describe as tidal in nature. The music is constantly ebbing and flowing, swelling and subsiding, and nearly every song rolls into the next one in a smooth and seamless fashion. As far as the songs themselves go, there really is no point in the music where there seems to be a falter or misstep. Rolling drumbeats give way to layered guitar textures (I believe their might be a sitar in there as well) and droning vocal melodies, which then subside into lulling ambient string sections, before the noise builds and swells and finally explodes into climax, and nearly every song is not without its own little moment of beauty. A lot of the drumming and vocals invoke a sort of tribal feel, which on paper would seem to clash with the overtly gloomy and placid atmospheres, but somehow Apse manages to pull it off. The actual sound of the vocals varies depending on the mood, ranging from a lone soft voice, to slightly louder layered chanting, to huge choral arrangements, and are rather high pitched, which somehow makes their sometimes droning quality a lot more interesting than it should be.
The only qualms I have with this album lie within the songs that clock in at over 7 minutes (with the exception of Shade of the Moor). Unfortunately, these few songs do tend to drag on for just a little bit to long without doing much of anything to alter the music or atmosphere, making those few songs fall just short of the rest of the album. Other than that, the album is everything you would expect a good Post Rock album to be. Its atmospheric, gloomy, and brooding, yet it somehow manages to avoid the pitfall of becoming overly long and boring like so many other "gloomy" Post Rock albums. Even so, there are a few glaring instances within the album that just don't carry a whole lot of weight or meaning, which makes a few of the songs feel a little unbalanced, and though it isn't a huge flaw, it does drag down the album ever so slightly. While it might not be a landmark album or Post Rock classic, I would still recommend it to any avid fan of the genre, and I would highly recommend it to those who are trying to break into it.