I've held this review off for a long time for many reasons. Firstly, this is a very personal album to me, which makes it difficult to talk about from a reviewer's perspective. This is an album of 7 very distinctive songs that are so easy to get lost in you'll just forget anything else exists, and because of each of them being so distinctive, every single one will draw up something different despite atmospherically being so akin to each other. You could even say it draws together memories and feelings from throughout your life and somehow brings them to a whole, as pretentious as that may sound. This is why this has been such a difficult album to talk about - let alone review. If ever there's an opportunity to recommend post-rock to anyone, this is my response by impulse. It's a totally different playing field to bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, or just about any post-rock band, so leave any comparisons behind. This is the pinnacle of post-rock atmospherics done to perfection with not a single aspect looked over, the album's subtleties and delicate touches are what really makes this as sublime as it is. Every little moment here has been intricately put together with care to make sure one part doesn't overwhelm the other. Every instrument, every texture and every emotion in this album gets the exact right amount of exposure when it should. The drums have moments when they're the most captivating and dare-I-say "catchy", along with the bass. In terms of balance, no one has ever done it better than Jakob.
But should it end there? It's an excellent album that has a lot of balance - for many, the praise ends there and it's just a go-to for those moments when you want atmospheric post-rock that perfectly balances the soothing textures with the wall-of-sound climaxes like a perfectly baked cake. But this album is more than that. Far, far more than that. The faceless approach Jakob took makes this album what it is. It's almost difficult to discern any real meaning from the songs, and this is why this album is so powerful because it latches onto your memories and makes them their own. This album is almost unbelievably captivating to an extent that has never been seen before, especially in music like this where bands are so desperate to get their listeners to read into some vague meaning that isn't even there. It just takes one intimate moment with this album and the entire thing just clicks, it suddenly feels like a soundtrack to your life that you couldn't even hear at the time - hyperbolic as it may seem.
This wouldn't have worked if everything wasn't perfect, so it was a big risk for Jakob to take without seeming like "just another post-rock band with no depth" but they pulled it off better than anybody ever has. The textures here are the absolute perfect balance between soothing and pummeling, and the band knows exactly how to structure them to the point of perfection. The guitar-work here is brilliant, especially considering there's only one guitarist. He has a fantastic way of making an ocean of sound by using effects in the most natural manner possible. The way he entwines all of the effects he uses, far from shoegaze, takes the sound from "interesting" to "why haven't guitars sounded like this for decades?". He shows such a mastery for textures that goes overlooked by almost everyone, sadly. It makes me ecstatic to say that he doesn't overwhelm anyone else in the band, either. There are equal moments where the bass stands above anything, far from sounding buried or just there to fill gaps in the mix. The drums here couldn't be better either, Jakob are lucky enough to have one of the best (if not the best) drummer in the entire genre. His technical proficiency isn't anything like what you'd expect from someone seen as 'the best', but the reason he is seen as the best is because he knows exactly what to play to simultaneously carry everything else and sound distinctive, memorable and never contrived.
This formula of perfection is then put into equally perfect structuring and production. No note lasts longer than it should, no section needs to be longer than it already is, and the ordering of the tracks and the atmospheres they provide are perfectly ordered. Everything sounds perfectly smooth and there isn't a thing that needs to be changed. What we have here is the genre perfected, the rest is up to what you make of it. If this album doesn't touch you in the way it has some, it will still be a wonderful listen that will make most similar records look like a bad imitation. But if it doesn't grip to you, keep listening. Solace couldn't be a more apt title for this album, it's a blank canvas for your own sense of meaning. Many bands say "this song means whatever you want it to", but it has never been more true than here. Nothing seems special about this album, but that's one of the reasons it is special. It's almost a disguise for the true under-laying meaning of the album, and why music is such a powerful medium. It's what you make of it, and you won't find a better album for getting lost in and making your own out of it than Solace by Jakob. If the guitar stood out more, or the bass, or the drums - the entire thing would be ruined. Solace proves a perfect showcase of how important balance is, and in the process have crafted the best post-rock album of its kind.
sick of negative reviews so i thought i'd review one of my favorite albums of all time. it's pretentious, i know. it's really difficult to talk about an album that is so great for such personal reasons but i tried. criticism welcome. :]
cale:drew really is fantastic but i like how they condensed things here, i think they show a much better ear for not letting their ideas draw on for too long and the atmosphere for me is just so much more compelling. they're the best post-rock band going right now, that's for sure.
Holy shit a positive review from you Noctus! One criticism I can say for it is that you seem to find as many ways of using the word "perfect" as possible.
i just can't think of anything else to say it, it's the only album i'd call truly perfect. it's difficult to review an album with no flaws. :[
I'll check this out but when people 5 a post rock album I always have a hard time thinking that it will really be that good.
that's one of the things i was afraid of. if you go into this expecting to be floored, that just won't happen. if you go into it expecting some mindblowing moments, you won't find them. just know what to expect when you go into this and go in with a blank mind without your judge hat on. :].
The people were in desperate need of a hero, and at that time he arrived with a blazing Agalloch soundtrack playing in the background. The sky turned blood red as he appeared from the mists that had surrounded him for so long. There he was, gloomy as always: Noctus!
this might bring it back, it's totally different from godspeed."
the thing is that I'm not really an avid post rock listener, but GY!BE blew me away so hard that I find it hard to appreciate any other post rock because it's practically impossible for it to reach the bar set by that band
best just not to think about godspeed then, it's a completely different experience. part of me is surprised they're even in the same genre. just don't let my rating set the expectations too high. i love godspeed but for totally, totally different reasons. :]
uhhh... that's kind of the point, it doesn't really have a mood, it's what you make of it. it's certainly not "pretty" shimmery post-rock, and it's far from apocalyptic but it's definitely very desolate in places
it's just a very personal mood that gets under your skin, waves of sound and desolate soundscapes, really smooth sounding. it's difficult to describe, no one does it like jakob. i mean i've heard some people call it depressing and i think it's very far from that...