Although I've seen Amatorski plenty of times before, the show of theirs I saw earlier this week was special because it was the first time I saw them since the new album came out. Which, coincidentally, is the album you're reading about now: From Clay To Figures
. Anyways, it made me realize something, namely that the new songs only really come into their own in a live setting. The impact of a full dynamic audio range instead of the somewhat compressed one employed on record cannot be understated. And it is a bigger issue for the material on From Clay To Figures
, than for the tracks on 2011's magnificent TBC
In the three years since TBC
, the band members have grown accustomed to their role of performers. The shy and fragile nature of their previous work has been toned down in lieu for a more comfortable and richer sound most commonly described as "mature". However, silence still plays a big part in Amatorski's compositions. And this is where the mixing becomes problematic, because the difference in volume between silence and music is just too small. I've had this record since it came out in April and all that time, there was something bothering me about it. Only now I'm able to recognize it as the way the songs where mastered.
Because let's be clear: apart from the technical issues, this is an absolutely brilliant follow-up to one of my favorite records, period. The piano arrangements of Inne Eysermans really carry the songs this time, as does her voice which not only whispers but actually sings this time around. The trip-hop influences haven't vanished as is evident from the impressive percussion, courtesy of new drummer Laurens Van Bouwelen. The drums are never intrusive to the melancholy mood, but they do pack a punch where it counts and effortlessly elevate the songs to higher levels. Electronic flourishes keep things interesting throughout and are wisely kept as finishing touches and not as the focal point - other modern post-rock bands should take note.
Highlights are aplenty, with first single 'Hudson' and the brooding 'Warszawa' leading the pack. Both songs exemplify the evolution the band has undergone in three years. There's no hesitation anymore, but a clear vision in which direction the band is headed nowadays. It gives the tracks and the album as a whole a sense of momentum - which is a notion I'd not really associated with Amatorski before, but it is a most welcome change. I don't really know if I can fully recommend From Clay To Figures
still, because of the issues I have with the technicalities mentioned above. However, from a songwriting perspective, this is absolutely world class. Yet again.