Review Summary: The ultimate come-down anthem
Among other things, public music ratings aggregator Rateyourmusic.com labels Zelienople as the mouthful that is Slowcore, Drone, Psychedelic Folk, Ambient, Avant-Folk, Free Improvisation, and Dark Ambient. I won't pretend to be an expert on their history, but a discography that stakes claim to such an eclectic range of genre categorizations has definitely precipitated its share of evolution throughout the years. Mechanically, The World Is A House On Fire
seems to touch on most of these things, but it all happens under the guise of a hazey, reduced BPM incarnation of shoegaze. The record is washed in enough echo and reverb to rival My Bloody Valentine; when combined with a hint of feedback and brushed snare, just the opening two minutes of "The Southern" are enough to prep for the journey ahead.
The most impressive piece of Zelienople's work is how its minimal instrumentation and gentle techniques can pervade such a lush, moody atmosphere. They use percussion in the loosest definition of the term; it ends up being less of a classic rhythmic device so much as the sonic binding agent. Sometimes it seems the snare morphs into a natural extension of the synthesizer - a microcosm for how cohesive the record is in that every part, no matter what it is or how subtle, makes a singular impact on the overall composition. In a similar sense, the implementation of negative space between reverberated notes accomplishes the very same thing.
The drone label plays through in force, yet the tempo doesn't stay where one might expect a-la more traditional genre denizens like Earth for example. "Island Machine" could almost be confused for standard slowcore fare in direct comparison to anything from The Bees Made Honey in the Lion's Skull
, for example. It's this very lack of a defined musical border that makes The World Is A House on Fire
what it is - a sprawling, minimal experiment that isn't afraid of melody or movement. Zelienople have crafted the ultimate come-down anthem; I for one am excited to explore their back catalog in full.