Review Summary: The apex of an instrumental band determined to push the realms of music and film within the 'soundtrack' that binds them.
Dumbsaint has been teasing us with their instrumental evolution since 2012's dense, Something That You Feel Will Find Its Own Form. Since then, numerous EP and soundtrack releases have been littered throughout hinting at a greater synergy within their desire to fuse the realms of music, film and the soundtrack that binds them. I'm happy to say they have finally arrived and the wait has been well worth it.
Dumbsaint's 'Panorama, in ten pieces.' is a journey; a fiercely unique work of aural chiaroscuro that despite its onslaught - its ability to weave through repeating motifs whilst moving in a single direction, refusing to stray from its course - never overstays its welcome.
Immediately looking at the physical package, the album art evokes perfectly the feeling that runs through the listener whilst experiencing this record; suburbia's benign menace being gently pushed to the surface - a Gregory Crewdson tableau where the mythic meets the mundane.
The titan push and pull of 'Low Visions' and 'Communion' that begins the album will dare you not to be modest with the volume dial, and see if you walk away from that first track feeling like anything but the victim of a car wreck.
Synths are a welcome addition to proceedings; the repeating crescendo accompaniment in 'Love Thy Neighbour' is a highlight and dial things up to new heights as far as texture (both palatial and claustrophobic) is concerned - there is a tension running throughout this album that is almost unprecedented. Along with '(Partition)', 'Cold Call' feels as if it is collapsing in on itself; the four minute blast a tightrope walk forever teetering between chaos and control.
Throughout all of this, the sheer technical precision never overshadows the music or distracts from the group dynamic; the lush tribal exchange that shifts to a driving rhythm in 'Graceland', the oceanic swell of synths and guitar in 'Communion', for example.
Despite not being a metal album in the strict sense of the word (its command of firm attention on the part of the listener is lost partly because of how easy it is to become completely absorbed, enveloped, lost in it) it feels like a subconscious effort that has succeeded in putting the weight back into heavy music.
'Long Dissolve : Temps Mort' is an uplifting spiritual breakthrough at the heart of the album; perhaps the only song here to operate without a brooding menace underneath; it is reflected by the encroaching panic in 'Of No Return' - containing perhaps the most intense moment on an album that is full of them.
'Barren Temples', the final track, feels as if it releases the tension that has accumulated over the nine that came before it; it is elation and ascension - it feels like a rebirth for the listener in the way that this record feels like a rebirth for the band itself.
Add to this the fact that 'Panorama...' also acts as a complete soundtrack to a self-produced 60-minute feature film of the same name (due to be completed at the end of 2015), we start to see the true scope of this work - a genuine artistic statement and the highly sort after audio/visual shot to the heart that the 'Post-Whatever' world has needed for the last 5 years.
Challenge yourself and go listen to this album.