I'm quite fishy when my dad recommends me a band. Judging from a good deal of his musical tastes, it might seem safe, but then he throws a curveball at me with 20 minutes of white guys jamming into a fortress of psychadelia and, essentially, annoyingness. So when I played Mogwai
's masterpiece Happy Songs for Happy People
in his car, he instantly got this wonderous look on his face. "You might like this one band I have", he says, and my face instantaniously caves in to a look of uncertainty. Not another "Flying Fun-Time Walter Flagington Jam Experience", for the love of God. Just please no.
Voila, two God is an Astronaut
CDs are handed to me. A small exchange of words, and forty minutes later I'm there with a small smile of approval.
The Irish trio that is God is an Astronaut
can be blamed with being uncreative or generic, or perhaps even a carbon copy of other bands such as Mogwai
or even lesser-bands such as Explosions in the Sky
. But the band, being a trio, give a marginally unique perspective to their music with simplicity and sheer jaw-dropping beauty portrayed throughout ten tracks on their debut, All Is Violent, All Is Bright
Perhaps one way of looking at their sound is to attack the formula of them being a trio. Rarely does the venture out of the realm of certain safety for a trio, a solid combination of guitar, bass, drums and occasionally a loop of synthesizer washing over the music. While on paper this could seem to be a sure enough con for the music, on record it's actually quite enjoyable. Not nearly self-indulgent enough to get on your nerves, and not boring enough to make you reach for the skip button. On the album's first standout track, All Is Violent, All Is Bright
, things take a little while to build up with just a single guitar plucking around with a fiendishly pretty chord sequence, until it erupts into a chaotic burst of ethereal noises and fast-paced drums. Very energetic, and suprisingly one can find little evidence that this is not a trio, besides the keyboards swarming overtop the three fundamentals. This formula also follows with such songs as Suicide By Star
(which is probably the most overall accessable song on the album and also features a kick-ass double bass drum attack at the coda), Dust and Echoes
(which takes a poppier approach to the sound, adding Sigur Ros
inspired ambient noises and a more formulatic rhythm section until it, once again, erupts into a fuzzy mess of noise), and the final song When Everything Dies
(which, as the title suggests, is the most gloomy part of the album. Gothic and trudging pianos, hammering away until, once again, everything comes together with a noisy coda and brings the album to a suitable noisy close). While somewhat repetetive, the formula works very well for this band because it doesn't require alot of players and is achingly pretty and enjoyable throughout.
That's not to say that listeners might get tired of this sequence after a while. While it is a very enjoyable sound, things rarely vary in sound values, tempos and, basically, just the overall musical quality of the band. Few songs balance out the formula. Infinite Horizons
and Remembrance Day
are both songs that are way too short to fully achieve what the beginning of each song hints at, and both are dissapointing for that same reason. Fire Flies and Empty Skies
is alright if you aren't already a bit tired of the band's formulatic ways, but if so then this song just becomes way too uninteresting, because it is already a somewhat sub-par piece of music due to it's inability to get moving or slow down in the right places, and also because when everything comes together, it just gets a bit corny and tiring. However, as their method of sound continues, the album's middle-positioned masterpiece, A Deafening Distance
, carries far beyond the album's limits as of yet and takes off into a spacey, dark and (don't ask) philisophical journey into an under-four-minute jam piece. While those descriptions might sound more suited to a much longer song, the band does an exceedingly outstanding job packaging it up into a small 3:49 package, leaving the listener refreshed and eager to look into the other half of the album.
This is a very enjoyable listen if you like post-rock, but as stated before several times, things get repetetive after a while. Considering this is a trio, I'll cut them some slack but this is the main problem with their music. It's breathtaking, sure, and quite intellectual and melodic, but such qualities are pushed out to different extents on the album time and time again. But, in the end, this is a very organized album, a startling debut and a good hint at things to come for this band. Perhaps as they mature in their sound, such insecurities will be ironed out and the band could churn out a monumental sound, but in regards to the present, they have a little way to go. Listen to your daddys, kids, they carry words of wisdom.