Review Summary: Central to a discography too immaculate to dislike.
At a first glimpse, Tanks and Recognizers
is disappointing to take in when traced back from the follow-up it shies away from, but then this spurs an odd thought: what exactly do Lights out Asia do best, anyway? On Eyes Like Brontide
they wrote one of the year’s most carefully constructed triumphs, delving into the sound so much it was hard to imagine them emerging from it. They wrote post-rock climaxes that come from hardly anywhere at all, barely even having anything to pronounce themselves onto in order to be that way. They layered absolutely everything with absolutely anything, and they even managed to stutter a word or two without even being noticed. And how can one band be so cautiously tightened up, yet so captivating? Meet Tanks and Recognizers
, more spotless and making the same question a tonne or more harder to answer.
For all Light out Asia’s spring-cleaning, each track their sophomore effort brings should be layered to infinity. In a sense, this is perfectly true, but it hardly feels enough for this to describe how exactly their dominant atmosphere comes about; no, more than anything, their music is a sequence – layers follow layers. From listening in on Tanks and Recognisers
, patterns begin to develop in the band’s sound. Every track seems to be born of the same process, but each time splits off into a different path distinguishable from the last. That’s the kind of difference that falls somewhere between the organic introduction of violins in the landscape of “Ring of Stars” and the energetic pulsation of “Four Square”, which is surprisingly one of the more ambient numbers.
Tanks and Recognizers
is probably most interesting for what lies under the ambience and thick passages of sound, though. For every other post-rock band out there, unwillingly thinking that with emotion comes grit, there should be another Lights out Asia. In their spare moments, songs are able to commit a little bit of human affection. What can you expect from me?/You thought we had to live alone
ferments Chris Schafer on “Oh! Toronto”, and really, the beat-driven coldness the track displays can only be bleak with his unattached sentiment (the band apparently know how to craft paradoxes as well). And again, he howls out eventually abandoned cries of Save her!
as he becomes lost under walls of guitar and keyboard transitions in “March Against the Savages”, and ultimately his thought collapses in a way that makes the composition – now a song – a worthwhile piece of delicacy. It isn’t epic because it’s not trying to be: it’s trying to be thoughtful.
With this in mind, every other counterpart of the album is almost instrumental enough to reveal Lights out Asia as the sneaky, secret pioneer that they could be to post-rock. “Art Divided By Science” welcomes us into another round of swirling guitar-work backed by endless noise, breaking into a small piece of poetry that actually is bettered by the music that surrounds it. “Spiti Elefas” is possibly the most insane closer imaginable for the album, still not bettered by the band’s recent attempt with “Six Points of Fire”. Its transitions are mind-numbing, scaling glitches, guitar, piano, beats and – possibly for the first time – crystal clear vocals. When drawn together, “Spiti Elefas” makes the longest piece on Tanks and Recognizers
, and since it momentarily covers every mood before it, what could be more apt? With as much clicking and keyboard-humming as Tanks and Recognizers
becomes all about, Light out Asia’s 2007 project is a speciality in its divine poetry and mind power. The words of Schafer are only in attendance for such short, sampled moments, but when they’re on, they give the band and their creations just a little more of a reason to exist. It’s a pessimistic clout of hums made hopeful by the ambience that intercepts it, so it’s an icy affair regardless of how it intends to come out – Schafer and co. care, and even if they want to hide it under mountains of sound, it makes them all the better.
Matt Wolfe recently spoke of The Samuel Jackson Five's Goodbye Melody Mountain
as being the band's evidence to lead the half-hearted post-rock world forward, but with their similar yearning for subtelty and little musical developments, Lights Out Asia are yet another quietly diligent band I would put up to the task. They're no stranger to sound scapes, and not a group that want to tone down their music in a genre where what we need is pure passion. While they may not take the boldest steps imaginable for the genre they contribute to, they may be making all the difference just because of that complimentary patience. If you get the chance, cast a vote forward for Tanks and Recognizers