And So I Watch You From Afar
Gangs


4.0
excellent

Review

by Elijah K. STAFF
May 5th, 2011 | 56 replies


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: In which And So I Watch You From Afar nonchalantly give the middle finger to the phrase "sophomore slump."

For the past few years, Irish post-rock group And So I Watch You From Afar have been doing things, well, a bit differently. So much in fact, that it’s really become a stretch to even tag them with the genre name, and really, any genre name at all. While their instrumental rock brethren oft take the road filled with sweeping movements, chaotic climaxes, and pretty chords, And So I Watch You From Afar are keen on firing on all cylinders, and stepping on the gas, and blazing their own trail. Mixing a more math-y style of rock and instrumental rock, the band exploded onto the scene with their eponymous debut, and since then have slowly been gaining a large and devoted following. And it’s difficult not to see why, as And So I Watch You From Afar was a breath of fresh air, an injection of creativity and boundless energy into a stagnant scene. Thankfully, the boys haven’t lost a thing over the last two years.

Their sophomore effort, Gangs, effortlessly picks up where their debut left off, offering the maniacal and frenzied instrumentation and thoughtful songwriting that the band has since become known for. And really, that’s what is so damn great about Gangs, as ASIWYFA know how to keep their technicality in check. The frenetic math rock tendancies never seem like too much, and the odd time signatures and constant tempo and dynamic shifts always seem tasteful. This is all thanks in part to the band’s ability to mix what is fun and interesting with what actually works, making a wankery free, fully thought out record.

Gangs really does feature some of the band’s best material to date. It’s much akin to their self-titled, keeping the same aesthetic of instrumental-rock with light hardcore influences. There’s a feeling of refinement that dominates the record as well, as ASIWYFA have squared off the edges and trimmed the fat, making Gangs a fantastically polished effort. They’ve stripped away just about everything that’s tied them to the post-rock scene, opting for slightly shorter, more streamlined tracks. It was an iffy choice, really, but it honestly sounds more natural this way, as ASIWYFA have always had a penchant for “rocking,” which is precisely the feeling Gangs exudes.

With eight moderate length tracks, Gangs in no way wears itself out. It’s relatively short, which only makes the listen even more sweet. There’s more going on than your standard rock, however, as the band really loves to throw curve balls. It’s full of different influences, and each track feels wholly different from the last. One minute chaotic, the next, nearly beautiful, Gangs is as unpredictable as it is meticulously plotted out. Tracks like the opener, “BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION” reek of a palpable energy, and set an overall jovial tone, whereas “7 Billion People All Alive At Once” sees the band craft a more melodious song, full of vocals and harmonic layering. It’s the mixture of sounds and styles that really sets the album apart from its peers. Although their label mates Enemies and Adebisi Shank tend to explore a stranger, more math-rock oriented realm, it tends to become tired, and slightly gimmicky. Yet ASIWYFA never fall into such a trap, as their off the cuff style ensures an intriguing listen.

And So I Watch You From Afar have proven that they’re truly worth the mounds of praise they’ve received over the past couple of years. Gangs is a fun and thoughtful instrumental rock marvel, full of unpredictable sights and sounds that make for an overall excellent listen. In polishing an already excellent sound, the band has ensured their place in the hearts of music lovers the world over.



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user ratings (356)
Chart.
3.8
excellent
other reviews of this album
Dr Dave De Sylvia STAFF (3)
A record that is as exhausting as it is exhilarating....

Ryan Fitz (3)
"yea, summary is not up to par with the rest of the review"-LanceBramsay...


Comments:Add a Comment 
NocteDominum
May 5th 2011


7218 Comments


Good one Xeno, Have pos

UnnamedOcean
May 5th 2011


3982 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. Pos. This album was pretty cool my first time through. I need to spin it again.

NocteDominum
May 5th 2011


7218 Comments


In which Xenophanes sits in his room alone drinking, having conversations on AIM, and reviewing music on Sputnik instead of writing his term paper.

Sputnik takes from all things lol.

letsgofishing
May 5th 2011


920 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Excellent review, wasn't as huge on their first as everyone else was, but what I'm read here definitely makes me want to give this a listen.



POS

SeaAnemone
May 5th 2011


21300 Comments


WHAT THE FUCK XENO YOU BROKE SPUTNIK

typeoneletter
May 5th 2011


6 Comments


BROKE SPUTNIK


how??

crazyblinddude
May 5th 2011


3389 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah good review. ASIWYFA rule so much face.

NocteDominum
May 5th 2011


7218 Comments


Wish i could get me one of those.

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2011


10506 Comments

Album Rating: 3.7

This album looks good, but all I can focus on is BREAKBREAKBREAK

Winsomniac
May 5th 2011


8091 Comments


lol@Eric gettin' mad at someone else for breaking Sputnik.


IT WASN'T HIP UNTIL YOUR DEAFHEAVEN REVIEW STARTED IT, ERIC!


Also, good review. Will definitely give this a listen.

Zackkkk
May 5th 2011


90 Comments


Thanks for this review! I checked the album out and I'm liking it a lot so far.

balcaen
May 5th 2011


3183 Comments


WOOOOOOO ANOTHER XENO REVIEW
time to wind down and listen to this

TREO5
May 5th 2011


1071 Comments


This is so good. Their live videos are flawless as well.

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
May 5th 2011


32071 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Not really feeling this as much as everyone else



Review is all nice and pretty as has become the xeno standard

Aids
May 5th 2011


24184 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

you rule so hard Xeno, so fucking hard. I think you're my favourite user reviewer. Well, let's say top 3 so Irving doesn't hunt me down and critique me.



album is boss, probably a 4 for me.

NocteDominum
May 5th 2011


7218 Comments


Well, let's say top 3 so Irving doesn't hunt me down and critique me


lol.

outline
May 5th 2011


563 Comments


2011 wtf. Such a deep year...

RangerTaffles
May 5th 2011


271 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Great review. Covered up nicely!



Killer stuff in the album. And ASIWYFA is always a breath of fresh air. :D

HallucinogeNick
May 5th 2011


755 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this kicks more ass than Navy SEALS.

wyankeif1337
May 6th 2011


6739 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

this is so fucking good, one of the best things from 2011 so far. great review, as always.



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