Review Summary: Look beyond the mountains and into the sea.
When things are taken at face value, sometimes we manage to avoid the point said thing is trying to make. Judging by what we see or hear on the surface is often ill-advised. We can never truly know what people go through behind closed doors or why they made a piece of art. Whether we know it or not, we are all guilty of this at some point in our lives. Therefore, the benefit of the doubt must be given in some cases. When regarding Departure Songs
by We Lost The Sea in this manner, the ultimate reward is simply handed to us: A new found multi-dimensional view of a work of art. On the surface, Departure Songs
may appear as a tedious work of post rock with long buildups that drag. However, its true potential unveils after repeated listens. Instead, the album is a passionate, dedicated and organic send off to a dearly departed friend.
The death of a band member can definitely make moving forward one of the most difficult tasks. Judging from the profound picture of mountains and the sea Departure Songs
paints, the band clearly dedicated the music to their dearly departed member. Knowing this, it places an immense amount of weight onto the music and puts the whole product into perspective. The decision to carry on without a vocalist also proves how much versatility We Lost The Sea possesses. Not only did they succeed in adapting, but they also achieved an often futile goal of creating a unique and imaginative final product. Their determination can clearly put to rest that cliche claim that post rock is stale or dead. Granted, one uneven track holds it back, but Departure Songs
exists as our answer to post rock that sounds like nothing else.
“A Gallant Gentleman” immediately gives off the impression that the album will require lots of patience. The lush textures truly simmer, but it all pays off when the melodies swell to an inspiring climax of beautiful guitar textures and a soaring choir. All of this happens under its organic production, allowing all of the instruments to shine in the natural atmosphere. “Bogatyri” also features well written guitar work, but it builds upon its more ominous textures. It gradually constructs a brooding rise that uses its beginning melodies as a blueprint. In addition to this, it continuously tacks on layers of reverb, making for an extremely cathartic crescendo. Both of these tracks are a testament how passionate and engrossing post rock can be.
As we move forward, the album requires a bit more patience, which will in fact turn people off. However, if given a chance, it makes for quite the rewarding experience. “The Last Dive Of David Shaw” opens to muffled sounds of running water and radio signals that bring to mind submerging in the sea. After a while, it gives way to a moving atmosphere of layered guitar and cymbals that sound stunning in the mix. It slows down to take a different route in an unexpected turn of events. With the combination of multiple guitars, moving strings and exceptional bass work, it’s evident that everyone has a chance at the spotlight here. It acts with a sound reminiscent of Cult Of Luna without a vocalist when its lengthy climax rages on. Yet another fantastic testament to how heavy crescendos can sound beautiful instead of brutal as the sorrowful piano sends it off.
However, “Challenger part 1 – Flight” happens to be where a bit of uneven pacing comes into play. A lengthy five minute section of William S Burrough samples guides the vast ambient background, giving off the impression of floating through space. As stated before, it requires lots of patience, but it pays off as it leads to thought provoking guitar picking that’s large in scope, with riffs that are eager to break through the background. They finally break through, which is empowering nonetheless, but it all stops for some reason when the song finally goes somewhere. Essentially, this song is two in one, which gives us a large feeling of uneven pacing. Thankfully, the second “song” gets us back on track in a thrilling manner, but if the middle section was altogether cut out and it was split into two, it would have been more satisfactory.
Thankfully, Departure Songs
closes the story book with a tear-jerking call back to “A Gallant Gentleman.” In "Challenger part 2 - A Swan Song," they're clearly saying a loving goodbye to their band member. When this is all said and done after the first listen, it can be a real head scratcher for some. After a couple more listens, it’s much easier to essentially look deeper. It’s a dense post rock album with many layers. Multiple listens help us to further examine what makes this piece of music tick and all of its moving parts. Its many moving parts make it profound and creative. Instead of looking at face value, look beyond the mountains and into the sea. This is Departure Songs
in its purest sense.