Review Summary: It's boring, redundant post-rock. What else is there to say?
The story of Tunturia is a short and uneventful one. All the relevant details can be summed up as follows: clichéed third wave post-rock band forms in 2006 and releases an album that, despite being of high quality, stays relatively underground, garnering no critical attention or particular interest in the blogosphere. The band disappears for a couple of years and reemerges with a sophomore album that falls flat in every single way. There. That’s all you need to know about Tunturia.
Okay, perhaps ending the review there would be a bit of a douchebag move, but there is honestly not a whole lot more to say about this album. Where Tunturia's debut album Maps
was a very well-written post-rock album that stuck to a tried and true formula without breaking (any) new ground, Invisible City
is an incoherent, poorly written album that tries to reinvent simple songwriting techniques without succeeding. Not even once. It’s a sophomore slump of the highest order, and it’s not because the music contained within is bad (except for Battle
) - it just seems to lack purpose and direction. Nearly every single track on the album goes through three or more completely unrelated musical ideas that would work great on their own, but end up sounding jarring, annoying and half-baked when crammed into their neat eight to nine minute packages. The band has an ear for good melody and interesting post-rock movements, but combined with the incredibly awkward songwriting, it falls flat and ends up making the album even more annoying than if the band had merely
However, I don’t wish to imply that records like these are inherently bad. Albums that jam along and move through various movements can work wonderfully. But the keyword is jam
. When music is spontaneously created and perfected by several musicians in direct communion with each other, it can sound downright amazing. When a band attempts
to create the same atmosphere through songwriting, it rarely works. That is also the reason why Invisible City
shows hints of brilliance packed into songs that go nowhere. The only song that works consistently is the opening track, Kitezh
. It has a decent amount of energy what with the bouncy, joyful bass lines, intricate drumming and twingly-twangly guitars we’re so used to from bands of this genre, and it should be able to hold the attention of most post-rock fans effortlessly. It’s just that everything after it is completely forgettable. When the band isn’t playing mind-numbingly boring ambient soundscapes (and believe me, they play those for a good quarter of the album’s runtime), they attempt to copy other successful bands. Discovery
is a shameless rip-off of modern Mogwai
(it sounds as redundant as I just made it sound), and while it isn’t as offensively bad as the neutered Russian Circles/Red Sparowes
, it’s still poor and has next to no redeeming qualities.
Believe me; it breaks my heart to listen to this album, for I am a fan of Maps
. Yes, it was incredibly derivative – such is the life of your average post-rock band – but it was entertaining and the music was good. There was a lot of potential for the band to develop their own style, and while I applaud the band for trying
to define themselves as unique players in what is generally considered the most stagnant genre on the planet, the result is poor and incoherent. The lack of songwriting prowess and general redundancy makes Invisible City
a very hard album to recommend, especially when there are already so many post-rock bands doing the same style much better.