Review Summary: The Middle East shower you with folk tinged post rock, in an album that will lighten anyones spirits.
There is a quote from the 1994 classic film, ‘Shawshank Redemption’ that enlightens ones aesthetic views of The Middle East. It may not be describing this album per se but when listening to The Recordings of the Middle East
, the same feelings resonate through you: “ ... I tell you, those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away, and for the briefest of moments, every last man in Shawshank felt free.”
The Middle East are what some may call folk, though this really doesn't do their music styling’s justice, as they mix the whimsical sounds of Bon Iver to the dark yet haunting sounds of Mono to create an album of awe inspiring beauty that really does bring the listener to a standstill or better yet, make them speechless.
The albums folk roots are shown through opening number ‘The Darkest Side’. The vocals sounding almost distant, but swoon all over the gently finger picked guitar, while the harmonies throughout the chorus have a whispery touch, giving you shivers. The other up most folk tune is ‘Blood.’ The lead single of the album, ‘Blood’ has gained quite a following, as it placed inside the Triple J hottest 100 (the largest music poll in the world) and it has earned that following for very good reasons. Probably the liveliest of songs on the album containing a small youth choir to sing the main melody, and a glockenspiel playing fantastic little flourishes, the musical introspect here is magnificent. Lyrically, discussing how people are born into different kind of bloodlines, it really is a moving song:
“Older father, weary soul, you'll drive
Back to the home you made on the mountainside
With that ugly, terrible thing
Those papers for divorce
And a lonely ring”
What is most amazing about The Middle East is that this is their debut album, which is astonishing considering that The Recordings of the Middle East
shows the maturity of song writing by a band that has been around for a very long time. Taking the longer songs with a post-rock feel for example, the vocal panning in ‘Pig Food’ is beautiful beyond belief, and the string accompaniment also shows the band's depth in writing. It is also quite obvious that the band found great inspiration from post-rock juggernauts Sigur Ros for the ending two tracks, ‘The Fall of Man’ and ‘Tsietsi’. Though The Middle East make the songs their own. An epic climax in ‘The Fall of Man’ once again proves the mature song writing from the band as the song follows a simple chord progression played on the piano, the climax is reached, and we are then left with just the resonating piano.
The Middle East, with their politically imbalanced band name, they lift you to soaring heights, and let you down gracefully and kindly. For such an unknown band their music shouts for attention, as The Middle East show they can mix it with the best of them and as Morgan Freeman said, “...those voices soared higher and farther than anybody in a grey place dares to dream. It was as if some beautiful bird had flapped into our drab little cage and made these walls dissolve away...”
The Middle East will make you feel like you are living in a happier place.