Review Summary: Putting the rock back into post-rock, 'our lines are down' is full of driven post-rock instrumentals, handled with surprising maturity
I'm a relative newcomer to post-rock, having come to it through progressive rock and Steven Wilson's drone work. Yet even from a brief amount of time listening to examples of the genre, it seems that it has stagnated a little. Post rock has been a growing genre since the giants of Sigur Ros
and Godspeed You! Black Emperor
made it big and when there's a recipe for success, everybody wants a slice of that pie (that's my best mixed cooking metaphor, I do need lunch...). So we have to turn back to the local scenes to try and find artists that will experiment and push the genre.
The result of my search turned up the magnificently named hazards of swimming naked
. A five piece band, consisting of three guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, hailing from Queensland, Australia. Their take on post-rock leans toward the rock end of the genre, as can probably be guessed from the lack of violinists and horn-players in their membership. They have an ear for the grandeur of rock, a liking for intricate layered melodies and even a metal-head in the band who lends the climaxes a beautiful brutality. Despite this, they never delve into the cliches of any genre and this is perhaps what makes their first outing, our lines are down
, a damn good listen.
The album kicks off with requiem
, which is a good example of what's to come. It starts off slowly, with a lone guitar repeating a melancholy line. It's slowly joined by sole notes from the bass and other guitars, before erupting into motion with the arrival of the drums and a wall of guitar riffs. What makes this song, and indeed the whole album, so excellent is the careful, mature layering of sound and melody. There's always small lines of melody and rhythm that complement the main part of the song perfectly and that you won't notice until the third playthrough. Yet despite this, it never seems messy or confusing.
The highlights of the album for me would have to be ...and a whole assortment of uppers and downers
and Kip Keino
. The former is a beautiful, psychedelic 6 minute trip that shows off all the band's best melodic aspects and culminating in the band demonstrating their metal leanings with a head-banging climax before devolving down into the opening riffs again and leading into the next song. Kip Keino showcases the band's ability to tell a story. Using samples of the call of the first Kenyan marathon runner's victory (for whom the song is named), the music makes you share in the triumph and determination of the run. Few bands are able to weave a story in such a cohesive and cinematic way.
There's perhaps a few weak tracks in dreams don't come true, that's why we dream
and sveta pace
, both of which are slower paced. I will say that 'dreams' is a slow grower on me, but it feels like a missed chance there. It is just the lack of drive or significance that makes it less memorable than the rest of the album. sveta pace sets the next song up perfectly so it can probably be forgiven for that. In fact, the flow of the album is superb. It feels like a cohesive piece of art and the pacing is expertly handled, something often lacking especially in any bands' first album.
This album is one that should appeal to a wide-range of listeners; post-rock appreciators will like the exploration of the genre, metalheads will find the riffs and climaxes satisfying (aabar dakhe habe
, give it a listen), progressive rock fans will love the layered guitars and skill, and those strange people like myself that belong to all of the lazy stereotypes listed above will appreciate the whole package. Well worth your time.