Review Summary: Explosions in the Sky with piano and strings -- what's not to like?
Not to Reason Why is a little-known California four-piece that plays instrumental post-rock music in the vein of Explosions in the Sky. Sweeping, reverberated guitar lines swell and build to explosive bursts of catharsis. We’ve all heard this before, and no, Not to Reason Why are not something “unique and fresh set to breathe life into the dying genre that is post-rock”, but they are damn good at what they do. The Book of Hours
spans three songs that are reminiscent of The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place
in terms of their structure; melodies build and crash and weave and change dynamically throughout the course of each song.
OK, so Not to Reason Why are not entirely derivative (despite their 4-worded band name) -- they throw string arrangements and joyous piano ditties into the mix (Explosions in the Sky meets Yndi Halda then"), and the result is nothing short of exceptional. In fact, the piano is always at the forefront, standing as the lead instrument driving each song forward -- a rarity among the genre. This serves well to maintain the band’s melodic sound even during the most climactic moments, injecting tunefulness beyond your typical “wall of sound”. The EP makes a point of this right out of the gate with its opening track, entitled "Good Morning". The song begins with a low-key chord progression and simple piano melody that might make you think you’re listening to a latter-day Mogwai track. Not to Reason Why waste no time in purging those thoughts, however, as fifty-five seconds in, the song explodes with a burst of guitar and drums, thrusting life and energy into the song before it has a chance to become tedious. This school of thought is carried throughout the entire EP; no time is ever wasted in building upon the same motif for minutes on end. The Book of Hours
spans three tracks and thirty minutes, and although there’s not much in the way of variety in terms of the styles that the band chooses to explore, there’s never a dull moment.
By the third and final track you might wonder if there’s anything more in store beyond what you’ve already heard, and you’d be forgiven for thinking that. However, at five and a half minutes into "Good Night" you’re treated with some lush group-vocals, featuring both male and female voices. At this point in the EP I was struck with the thought “oh, now it sounds like Ef”, except it’s better... much better. The vocals blend perfectly with the music, and they continue for what is a large proportion of the EP’s remaining minutes, with absolutely no sacrifice to the quality of its instrumental components.
The Book of Hours
may be derivative of its many influences, and if you’re tired of this style of music by now then it would be no surprise if my review has failed to convince you that this EP is worth 30 minutes of your attention, but it is worth it.