Review Summary: This album conveys mood and atmospheres with simple instruments that are unlike nothing witnessed before. Whatever it does to you, you cannot deny its power and beauty.
The usual contention when it comes to any type of artistic expression is that the longer it takes to create the piece, the better it is. It is generally accepted that if one has more time with which to work upon and perfect said creation, it will be something truly special and moving. If one is focused upon their work, the end result will be nothing short of amazing. In many cases, this is true. However, there are artistic endeavors that, regardless of time allotted for it to be devised, just don't fit this logic (Tool
's new album could be construed as a prime example of this, dependant upon your personal dispositions).
By all rights, Explosions in the Sky's 2005 album The Rescue
should be terrible. The concept with which the band went into recording the album was to write, compose, and record a new, original song a day for eight consecutive days, with no previously written material allowed to be used. If that does not seem to be the premise for the most rushed album in history, no album deserves that title.
It would seem that this album is the exception that proves the rule. The album does not feel rushed, which is ultimately what would have broken the album. There appears on The Rescue
a sense of deep, intense focus. Each individual song translates into a different emotion and feeling that the group had wished to present. My only true complaint is that the tracks are too short, with the longest song being a little over five minutes in length. This is somewhat understandable under the recording circumstances, but it still leaves a bit to be desired.
The song titles are named for the day on which they were recorded and are arranged in chronological order:
A soft chime and some strummed guitar chords usher in the album. A drum matches the guitar note-for-note as a piano enters with some very uplifting chords. Another guitar plays a passage nothing short of epic as the drums enter a state of bombast. The chimes clash perfectly with the ensemble as the tone winds down a bit, with soft guitars dueling and the crash of cymbals and snare ramble on. These chimes take the forefront, providing an almost winter-like scene. A lead line and marching snare amplify the feeling. You want to cherish this beautiful moment, just let it engulf you. All of a sudden, a drop in the action agars a slow fading away of the instruments, leaving only that one lonely drum and that one tinkling chime to console you.
Sharp drumming and subdued chord strumming brings you into the second day. A beautiful waltz of guitar lead and piano cause you to tear up in awe. The drums become steadier, waiting for the rest of the band to catch up, and they do. A build-up of vocals and lead, led once again by the sharp drum pattern, create a iridescent atmosphere, one of comforting light. The music drops out letting, guitar chords shine for a brief moment as an gushing forth of magnificent tonal ascension overwhelms you. The choir-like vocals, the piano, the cymbals, all give off a sense of fulfillment. as but one single chord resounds to bring about an end to the song.
Foreboding ambience gives way to a mixed-back spoken journal by one of the band members, creating the essence of heartbreak and desperation. Basically, the tour van's transmission is shot and the band needs to spend its money on a used one, ultimately making them broke and in debt. Guitar feedback and wind sounds pulsate and reversed echoing usher in another spoken word portion, which at first is intelligible. However, it quickly is found that this is where the band are, collectively, told of the transmission. Yet another spoken journal portion, although it is not known what is being said. Barely-there drums appear for a moment as the ambience continues. An almost rave-like dance beat and some cymbals give way as the band interviews become ambience in themselves, a commonplace by this time. Although it ends uneventfully, it does not detract from the fact that this track is the quintessence of heartbreak and despair.
A bombast of guitar and bass leads you into 'Day Four'. A wall of guitar resounds before you. Clear, crisp leads under a veil of strong piano chords illuminate the scene you now witness. Joyous, sweet, calm feelings implore you to further experience the music. You are drawn as you have never been before drawn to something. This feeling encapsulates much of the track, that is until a soft piano passage layer with ambience draws on, yet the feelings never change. More keyboards enter the frame, as do guitar chords. This is perhaps one of the best passages on the album. Things slow to a crawl for the finale, a mere echo.
longest song begins with wonderful synth and almost trance-like drums. Bells, bass, and guitar chords collide in a rhythmic celebration. The mood of this track is simply entrancing, whimsical, nostalgic, and every other conceivable adjective. There is nothing the band has done that can surpass this moment. You hear a prolonged resonance of the guitar while the drums continue to jam on. The bells add a fantastic new sound to the entire scope of the song; they are the standout instrument here. My personal favorite guitar passage envelopes the sound as the drums drop out at random, never detracting from the overall mood. Synth ushers in a new day...
A soft screech and a fade in of drums meet a fantastical cohesion of guitar and piano, which radiates beautifully amongst the other instruments. This gives in to feedback and sweet guitar chords, remnants of a 50s love tune. After a while of this lament, the drums return, soldiering along and turning this moment into one you want to hold onto forever. It seems to never end, the instruments manifesting themselves as your friends. Near sadness grips you when the track ends, but you look to the future for a moment such as this to occur.
This track begins with some gentle, warm synth lines and an emotive guitar lead. As slow bass drum pattern accentuates the background, giving the song a very personal feel. For the first time, soft acoustic strings enter as the music builds ever so slowly. Inspiration hits you, the inspiration to do something extraordinary. You are treated to the rhythm of bells and soaring vocals, whilst the piano keeps everything anchored. The music gets louder, and impossibly more lovely at that. You shed another tear as everything ends the way it is supposed to, without regret.
The final day welcomes you with the weeping of an acoustic guitar and an odd tapping noise behind it. Layers of ambience cradle the instruments. All is perfect, is peaceful, yet at the same time it makes you want to break down with unworthiness. Clapping can now be heard among the din, adding a danceable quality to the music. Suddenly...it ends. It's over. You can't believe it. You refuse to.
Explosions in the Sky, with The Rescue
create a masterpiece of sound and mood. Quite literally, this is the genre of post-rock at its best. It forces one to look both to their past and to their future with nostalgia and uncertainty, respectively. You look forward to the journey ahead of you. Walls of sound will comfort you along the way. In any time of need you may encounter, it will be your rescue.
Every mood, atmosphere, and feeling created by the album.
Entirely too short, in my honest opinion.