Review Summary: Step off that pedestal Mono; there's a new post rock band in town.
The post second millennium has been a great time for music. More and more bands are trying new things, dipping into new genres, and creating fresh and interesting music overall. A genre that has been getting quite a lot of attention in the past decade is post rock. Post rock heavyweight Godspeed You! Black Emperor released their massive two disc epic Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antenna to the Heavens
, whilst newcomers Sigur Ros were just getting started with the release of Ágætis byrjun
the following year. Other bands such as Pelican and Maybeshewill were experimenting with what post rock really meant, pushing boundaries to create a high energy, experimental blend of post rock. Which brings us to Margins.
Margins formed in 2009 by members of Aussie based groups The Nation Blue, Ricaine and Blacklevel Embassy. The band was set with a very specific goal: create post rock without the epic buildups and crescendos, while still staying low energy and atmospheric; something no other band has yet to accomplish. Think Godspeed You! Black Emperor without the 6 minute build ups, the mood and atmosphere of Sigur Ros, and the groove of early Tortoise all mixed together and you've got Margins. This self-titled debut from this next to unknown band is nothing short of spectacular. The band has hit their goal perfectly, creating one of the most original post rock releases of the past decade.
A dark, saddened tone rings out of an acoustic guitar on the opener 'Dust' as you enter the world Margins has set for you. Pressed hard left in the channel, you will notice something different about the production. Each of the guitars are set hard left and right while the bass and drums are set in the center channel. Sometimes the instruments will rotate. The bass will be set hard left while the second guitar moves back to where the bass used to be. Not only does this provide an added incentive to listen with headphones, the production is like nothing else in the genre. The listener can put on a pair of headphones, close their eyes, and get drifted away to a new land the music paints. There are no lyrics or sound samples to get held up on, and no epic crescendos to blow your mind. This is a stripped down work of art that is pure enjoyment.
Think of yourself alone in a desert, nothing around you but cacti and rocks; the wind blows, rattling the dirt on the ground. You look around, but there is no one in sight, just you and nature. Just like that desert, Margins' music is desolate and barren. Dissonant guitars eerily play in each of your ears, as the rhythm section beats slowly in the background. Tracks such as 'Hauntingly' and 'Down Desolate Roads' invoke images found right in the titles themselves, using space and atmosphere to create a creepy feel. Bluesy guitar riffs and galloping bass lines are scattered about. Sticking to the goal, the songs never build up to an epic crescendo. 'Shot' starts out slow with a beautiful bass line, gradually getting faster, the song comes to what a typical post rock crescendo would be, but instead of indulging in a grand display of musical catharsis everything comes to a halt. Dropping back into an acoustic guitar strumming out a chord the song fades out into the next. Instead of being let down by this cruel tactic, it works incredibly well in the context of the music.
Margins self titled debut is not easy to describe. Standing out in the flood of post rock acts, Margins has created something completely original. In just 40 minutes, Margins takes you on a journey that will leave you satisfied and reflective on what you have just experienced. Never boring the listener, Margins packs a generous amount of amazing instrumentation to keep the listener entertained. This is a beautifully crafted record that shows Margins is not a band to be overlooked.