Review Summary: Breaking the post-rock mould.
Well – nobody expected this. If their split LP was anything to go by, we were given every reason to think that the new ‘Everest album would simply be another addition to their catalogue of quintessentially titanic post-rock crescendo-fests. Even the band name sounds like a mission statement, a commitment to scale the most mountainous of musical parabolas. Clearly, their forte was taking this classic template and re-invigorating it; anything other than this they simply did not indulge in. Surely, this was a post-rock band very much content to stay a post-rock band, thank you very much. Or so we thought. ‘From This Vantage’ is a decided departure from this style, although a lot of the time, it doesn’t exactly feel like it; unexpected and substantial as the change is, it’s still very much an ‘Everest album. When the word ‘progression’ in post-rock isn’t referring to a crescendo, then we have something to get excited about.
A lot of this continuity has to do with the albums core sound, which is very recognisable as being of the band. Gratuitous, varied and highly inventive use of strings? Check. Immaculate pacing and attention to detail within the assorted song construction? Check. Angelic, wispy, half-heard shoegaze-esque vocals? One big, seriously impressed check please. If you’ve listened to their debut, it’s very familiar scenery – but what they’ve done with the landscape is strikingly different. While there is something of a development in the tracks themselves, it can’t exactly be called post-rock. There are parabolas, but they do not tower as they once did. These song structures mean that this is an album where their influences are taken less from the genre where they have already proven themselves, but more from a fusion of ambience and of more conventional indie.
The formula works. This album pulls off something fairly unique, a hybrid of several influences that retains the energy, focus and pizzazz of their post-rock tendencies, whilst borrowing heavily from the many variations, intricacies and general musical come-and-go within the song (tracks being typically around half the length of their previous work) are influences felt perhaps from their futurerecording label mates, such as the band they shared a split LP with, we all inherit the moon; an ambience outfit. The elements of post-rock, of shoegaze and of more conventional indie have been brought together by a band with talent that evidently extends far beyond the realm of the crescendo. Neither typical nor expected, it is much to their credit that they have brought about change and innovation to create an album with unique (!) style, with resounding success. It’s one of those albums that goes about creating its own atmosphere whilst sucking you into its own ethereal world; a wholly absorbing and captivating experience, with several truly standout moments. The just-above-whisper, “You cannot dream your way out of here”, in ‘Dark, Dark my Light’; the breathtaking transition from the slowly merging ambience of the opener into the brilliantly asserted aerobatics of ‘Return to Us’; and the completely awe-inspiring fashion in which the album ends, taking leave of the listener by rushing and swirling its way out through the eardrums and heavenward. The mould has been broken; the result works magnificently.
Today I woke up early; I caught the sun in mid-rise. It was to ‘From this Vantage’ that I was compelled to listen. This album… it’s a bit special.