Review Summary: A somber, brooding exercise in post rock that, while not too original, is still highly enjoyable.
Daturah, a post rock band hailing from Frankfurt, Germany, is nothing too unique. Let's go ahead and get that out of the way. While they perform an excellent rendition of the soft-loud post rock dynamic, their actual originality is pretty easy to question. However, with that being said, music doesn't have to be original to be excellent. If that was the case, the magnitude of obnoxious dross we as listeners would be subjected to would be close to unbearable. No, originality does not always equate to musical greatness, and Daturah is a shining example of this.
If you take a look at the album artwork for Daturah's eponymous 2005 debut, you'll see a simple yet elegant cover: outreaching tree limbs on a stark white background. Sizing up the three tracks on the album, each in the 11 to 16 minute range, one could easily assume that this debut will do nothing to set itself apart from the seemingly endless supply of trite post rock albums. I'm telling you to throw these preconceived notions out the window. Daturah (for the most part) specialize in a particularly somber area of post rock. While bands like Explosions In The Sky
or This Will Destroy You
excel in crafting songs that sound triumphant or uplifting, Daturah makes music that shimmers with a sense of forlorn remembrance. This is the aspect of Daturah's music that warrants such a strong rating. Just like an old, forgotten photograph conjures up memories, so too do the long, droning compositions of Daturah. While their playing and formula on each song may not be exceptionally unique to the post rock genre, the atmosphere they create sets them apart from the plethora of bands seeking to produce a hopeful or optimistic sound.
Droning is also an apt word for an influence that frequently rears its head on this album. Aside from the standard post rock playing that appears, a strong drone influence also comes into play. The long, ambient introduction to opening number Shoal is a textured, psychedelic descent into delayed, drawn out guitar tones and looped voice samples. After slowly and deliberately piling up sounds, Daturah finally brings drums into the mix to continue this build up. The strongest track on Daturah, Shoal states its case with a smooth climb to a climax that implements a melancholy shoegaze guitar sound not too far off from Slowdive
. A truly haunting song, Shoal is an extremely strong opening track that gives you a great preview of the album. After Shoal segues into the second track, entitled Warmachines, one is treated to another 16 minute song that is highly reminiscent of Japanese post rockers Mono
. The incessant tremolo picking paired with the drummer's emphasis on snare drum patterns does feel a bit contrived, but still makes for a well done and easily likable post rock track. Warmachines then fades into the closing track, Lovelight, which contains the most lighthearted sound on the album. This track serves as a foil for the previous two slabs of dark, gloomy instrumental rock, much like the sun coming out after a thunderstorm. Although this is nothing new, it works.
Which brings me directly to the main point of this review. Daturah, as previously stated, are not cutting edge or highly innovative. However, that's alright, especially when they produce an album like this. Many lament post rock as a dead genre, proclaiming it to have had its run in its early days. These naysayers will dismiss an album before even listening to it because apparently the post rock well of originality has dried up completely. While there is no doubt that many post rock bands on the rise, Daturah included, attempt in some way to emulate the forefathers of their chosen genre, this does not mean that their work is not worthwhile or enjoyable to listen to. Daturah's self titled debut certainly proves this statement to be true, as it is a release that does not contain a dull moment among its swirling drones. In fact, I would go to so far to say that it contains many moments that border on the sublime, and with a little refinement, they might very well ascend to the top tier of post rock along with bands like the aforementioned Mono
, Explosions In The Sky
, and This Will Destroy You