Grails
Deep Politics


4.5
superb

Review

by Andrew Kaster USER (24 Reviews)
March 29th, 2011 | 33 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Grails have honed their craft of eclectic landscape artists by impregnating their vistas with chaos, psychedelia, and art house niche.

Grails have always been quietly prolific, and so it’s no surprise that Deep Politics will remain just another album collecting dust with the rest of their discography. This isn’t to say their relative obscurity is justified, as they’ve always been one of the most interesting bands to be straddled to the “post-rock” genre tag. They've always set themselves apart from their contemporaries though, for music lumped into the same genre isn’t typically this cinematic (that is to say, most post-rock would only be suitably scored if sound-tracked to genocides blown up to IMAX proportions). Instead of drawing their logistics from chamber orchestras and classical arrangements, Grails instead chose to exist in a world of grind house fringe music and Nino Rota film scores. And while this type of music will probably only appeal to the coterie of cultist fanatics it’s nonetheless strange and beautiful, leaving one speechless and dripped in strange visions; mouth agape.

Deep Politics is a revolving cinematic projection of eight different vignettes, each of which shrouded in deep occult fog and gauzy imagery. Though they’ve since moved away from their “chamber doom” origins they’ve managed to make this album their “heaviest” to date, as sonic density is maximized through post-production wizardry. Layers of eclectic instrumentation and genres are strung together effortlessly with a connecting thread that makes shifting gears jell without even the slightest of hiccups. From the soundtracks of meticulously planned heists to spaghetti westerns, Grails surround themselves with the swelling sounds of Ennio Morricone and Francis Lai while exhibiting a muscular and restrained sense of musicianship. Songs such as “Future Primitive”, “All The Colors of the Dark”, and the title track (easily the finest song amongst the eight tracks) conjure up ascetic brood into a maelstrom of longing and demise. Other, more ambient tracks, such as “Corridors of Power” and “Daughters of Bilitis” channel more otherworldly sounds; the former being wedged somewhere between a neo-Samurai flick and a trip hop experiment and the latter floating in the realm of avant neo-noir.

Ironically, the only point in the album where interest shows sign of waning is in the final trilogy of long running epics. It's not that these tracks are particularly boring, it’s just that the same ligneous textures and emotional heights are reached elsewhere on the album in considerably less time and with more conciseness. The bombastic Floydian prog of “Almost Grew My Hair” and the desolate apolistic build up of “I Led Three Lives” are both fantastic, yet veer into the realm of jam band tentativeness. Again, this drop in quality is only relative to the rest of the album and when looked at as separate pieces and allowed to ruminate, they reveal extraordinary qualities (though hesitant to inosculate, album closer "Deep Snow" blends a beautifully confusing gambit of emotions).

Deep Politics isn't your typical "ride the rails" post-rock album. Grails script their own characters, dialogue, and scenes through each of their colossal tracks; content left up to the listener to interpret. Vagueness ends up being the band's best tool, as each song lends itself to the backlight of the listener's imagination. The album wades through the abstract with a strong enough sense of where it's going, making it hard to lose interest in these songs. Seedy cabaret halls lead to manhole steam shrouded alleys, which open up to vast western expanses, and finally, spiritual zenith. It's a visual album, so much so that it refuses to remain ambient. The false climaxes, long buildups, and predictable catharsis of most post-rock acts is eschewed for something more condensed and focused. This isn't to say Grails doesn't adhere to a particular formula, as most songs follow a triptych composition of distinct movements. Sometimes the band even becomes portentous in these shifts, following moments of airy brevity. However, any criticism at this point is simply nitpicking at what stands as one of the year's finest albums. Grails have honed their craft of eclectic landscape artists by impregnating their vistas with chaos, psychedelia, and art house niche. Their latest is a Pangaea meeting of eastern and western sounds into something that is truly difficult to pigeonhole, and further proof that these holistic soundtrackers have really carved out a sound all their own.



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user ratings (92)
Chart.
3.8
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
SloppyMilkshake
March 29th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This is, oddly enough, what I image Radiohead doing post-rock would sound like.

At least at certain points. At other points it sounds like something Mike Patton and Quentin Tarantino would make if they collaborated on a film.

Anyways, please point out any grammatical or spelling errors if you can, fellow sputnikers. I'm finally about to get some sleep (first time in two days), so I'm really not up to proof reading this again.

Cheers.

SloppyMilkshake
March 29th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Also, surprised nobody has reviewed this yet. These guys seem to have a really strong cult following.

Scoot
March 29th 2011


17756 Comments


sounds interesting. pos

Photon
March 29th 2011


1292 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

fantastic album and review

WashboardSuds
March 29th 2011


5016 Comments


great review, pos'd

Rev
March 29th 2011


9423 Comments


Great review man! Pos'd

I still need to get this

psykonaut
March 29th 2011


3913 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah this is a great review. i enjoyed this album quite a bit, although like you mentioned in the review the album's awesomeness seemed to wane quite a bit towards the end

balcaen
March 29th 2011


3183 Comments


fuck yeah, andrew. a positive grails review.
i really love this though. reminded me of kashiwa daisuke

SloppyMilkshake
March 29th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah, parts of this definitely sound like Kashiwa. I should've mentioned him.

To be honest, this was my first Grails listen. I was planning on writing this review to coincide with the release but after hearing this I immediately got the rest of their discography and started listening to those. Needless to say, I got sidetracked.

feav233
April 12th 2011


1411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

great review, pos'd, so far its probably my favorite album of the year

SloppyMilkshake
April 12th 2011


981 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

The sad part is it'll probably be overlooked and hardly get a mention come the end of the year.



feav233
April 12th 2011


1411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you are probably correct

RedSky
April 16th 2011


283 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

How the hell is this not above 4?

Shit is brilliant.

singthewordhope
June 4th 2011


106 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

more people need to listen to this

TheLodge
July 16th 2011


40 Comments


Listened once and only the last two tracks got my attention. Will have to try again someday.

BLUEOmni
February 5th 2012


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

This was like bBllLaaAAaaHaaHhHAhHhhHAaaAahH in that order.

fsharptrit0ne
February 5th 2012


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wtf this rules

fsharptrit0ne
February 5th 2012


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

that one rules too

fsharptrit0ne
February 5th 2012


4814 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'M AMERICAN I DO'NT KNOW DISTANCES

BLUEOmni
February 5th 2012


684 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

wat order

That order, you silly goose. Oh, you're so silly :P



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