Explosions in the Sky
The Wilderness


4.3
superb

Review

by SowingSeason STAFF
April 5th, 2016 | 138 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A thrilling and bold expedition out of the ordinary and into the unknown.

Explosions In The Sky isn’t exactly a band that strikes joy into the heart of every post-rock aficionado anymore, and it has nothing to do with the band’s talent level. After all, nobody questions that these guys can play, and some of the crescendos that they’ve crafted over the years will stand tall as historical examples of the heights to which the genre can aspire. The problem, recently anyway, has been a perceived lack of imagination. It seemed that following The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, each successive release was merely a retread of that incredible experience – only with diminished satisfaction for every additional time we heard sparkling guitars, clashing cymbals, and earth-shattering drums. It was quite simply time for a change, and even though basically any alteration would have sufficed, The Wilderness presents us with a road that is both less traveled and far more scenic than the one we’ve watched them travel for approximately the last ten years.

Explosions’ seventh studio album is easily their most concise offering to date, even if it is far from their most focused. They’ve eliminated a great deal of the instrumental wanderings and epic climaxes that have defined the band for the vast majority of its existence. Despite the stark departures, though, there is no identity crisis to be found. The band feels right at home as it tests different approaches – at times dabbling in electronics while during other moments bending its sonic prowess to concoct mesmerizing ambient soundscapes. Instead of feeling boxed in and tied to the earth by its brevity, the The Wilderness seems liberated and poised to take flight. With every iridescent sound and unpredictable twist, you can feel the group’s potential soaring to loftier heights. Here, Explosions In The Sky take the pressure to change and transform it into an opportunity for unlimited growth – and perhaps the best part of it all is that they make the entire transition feel like a seamless, natural progression.

The band’s evolution can be heard from the opening moments, as reverberated backbeats rattle the music’s core like tremors following an earthquake. On past outings, Explosions In The Sky would have spent five to eight minutes building towards that huge, unforgettable earthquake no matter what. Here, the band seems content to let us sway to-and-fro in the aftershock, and it’s a refreshingly direct approach. Throughout the record, Explosions In The Sky also demonstrate a keener sense of stylistic balance by allowing colder, more foreign electronic/ambient elements to coexist with their familiarly warm and glistening approach. The opposite sides of the spectrum complement each other quite nicely, as is evidenced through the unforgettable ‘Disintegration Anxiety’ – a track that mixes bubbling acoustic guitars with very precise, borderline mechanical percussive contributions (all within a deceptively complex time signature, no less). No matter which side of the coin you prefer, it’s safe to say that this band has never been more balanced.

In an album full of eclectic stylistic ambition, perhaps no track encompasses the entire experience better than ‘Landing Cliffs.’ The song feels like a breath of new life, shimmering with gorgeous piano notes while pirouetting in a light, spacey atmosphere that is immersive but not oppressive. The beauty of the actual wilderness will come to mind immediately: water rushing over a pristine cliff, clouds rolling across the sky, their shadows marking the ground like puppets in a play – it’s simply breathtaking. When hearing ‘Landing Cliffs’, it feels like you’re experiencing so much more than sounds tossed together on a musical canvas. It’s like you’re truly living, transported from your cozy quarters to somewhere far away and more beautiful than you could ever imagine. It’s an incredible curtain call, and it ties all of the swirling ideas within this album into one stunning little piece that’s worthy of unending adoration.

At any given point during The Wilderness, there’s unforetold beauty such as this just waiting to be discovered by anyone who’s willing to let their minds do a little bit of exploring. It’s true that the album is meant to be divisive, and it’s important to recognize that as a strength. Steadfast advocates of the group’s traditional sound will want to gradually test the waters here, as basically every color on Explosions’ palette has been in some way or another utilized. It makes The Wilderness all the more expansive, but as we all know, some progress takes time before it can be truly appreciated. In this case however, Explosions In The Sky make a piece that is nearly impossible to resist for very long. It’s warm, engaging, and possesses incredible aural imagery. This is a band that has truly resurrected themselves, having climbed out of a pool of stagnancy to craft what can only be considered one of the most creative and immediately likeable albums of the year. Don’t let the band’s recent output fool you into looking past this…it is quite plainly a must hear post-rock album in a time when such important and relevant post-rock music is an endangered kind.




Recent reviews by this author
Belle and Sebastian How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1Sufjan Stevens The Greatest Gift
Teen Daze Themes for a New EarthSt. Vincent MASSEDUCTION
Manchester Orchestra A Black Mile to the SurfaceCirca Survive The Amulet
user ratings (318)
Chart.
3.4
great
other reviews of this album
Mongi123 CONTRIBUTOR (3.5)
For better and for worse, the band finally deviates into some much needed uncharted territory....

Chamberbelain (4)
A cleansing album to wash away all feelings of doubt and uncertainty you may feel for this band....



Comments:Add a Comment 
SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

A couple things: First, I'm glad I got this submitted before the inevitable site crash - and secondly, yes I realize that this review is basically just me expounding upon my track of the day write up for Landing Cliffs (and no I don't care).



Album is shockingly good and definitely one of the best post-rock albums I've heard in a while.

Digging: Belle and Sebastian - How To Solve Our Human Problems Pt. 1

Gyromania
April 5th 2016


23771 Comments


no fucking way lol.

i haven't heard it yet, but if i thought the world... was a mostly mediocre album is this worth listening to?

Pangea
April 5th 2016


2712 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

excellent review. i hope this will grow on me

cryptside
April 5th 2016


2397 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Awesome review, man. I'm so glad to hear that they are embracing new ways to write songs, it's long overdue.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Thanks fellas. Definitely long overdue for them to experiment a bit, but I'm just happy they did it at all.





no fucking way lol.

This rating was actually on the conservative side - it's pushing The Jezabels and Weezer for AOTY currently. I rated it lower because typically post-rock grows off of me rather than on me.



i haven't heard it yet, but if i thought the world... was a mostly mediocre album is this worth listening to?

Yes. If for no other reason because this doesn't really sound like their other albums.

Gyromania
April 5th 2016


23771 Comments


all right, i'll give it a try on your recommendation. just got around to reading the review (gj, gj) and it sounds like it fixes most of my problems with this band. i'm always skeptical when it comes to post-rock though lol

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

I mean this isn't a cure all if post-rock isn't your thing, and it still sounds like Explosions In The Sky, but it IS vastly different from their other material and in my opinion better. Landing Cliffs is on my short list for song of the year.

Gyromania
April 5th 2016


23771 Comments


i love some post-rock. some mogwai stuff, helios, hammock being prob my favorite band in the genre. it's just that a lot of post-rock (especially by these guys in the past) is so generic and unmemorable. i'm downloading this now though and will reserve judgement

zakalwe
April 5th 2016


23726 Comments


That new Mogwai soundtrack thingamabob is amazing

Digging: Swarms - Black Chapel Sun

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2016


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Fantastic review Sowing, and agreed. This is creeping up to be among my favorites of the year as well.

Digging: Tom Rogerson with Brian Eno - Finding Shore

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2016


18921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Awesome review man. Don't love it as much as you but pretty much agreed all accounts. This is refreshing.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

Thanks, both of you.



And Mongi, your review was great too (hence the feature)...wanted to let it run its course before I posted mine up there. Glad to see the general perception towards this has been that it's different/good

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2016


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Sowing you've really been sweeping up the hot new 2016 releases, especially if you're still gonna review Gore.

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

I dropped my dibs on Gore because I'll be working that whole week (weekend included). If I find time I'll still write, but most likely it will be someone else on the staff or we'll flag a solid contrib/user review.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
April 5th 2016


16938 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

Sounds good, I'm sure there'll end up being dozens of reviews for it, including mine haha

ElegantElephant
April 5th 2016


1391 Comments


how is The Earth generic? its a staple of the genre, probably one of the most important albums in post rock

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

I don't think Gyro said that album specifically is generic, he just finds post-rock and EITS's recent stuff to be so

ElegantElephant
April 5th 2016


1391 Comments


i thought the world... was a mostly mediocre album

im just guessing thats meant to be 'the earth' but i still find it hard to believe that these guys could be considered inferior to mogwai

SowingSeason
Moderator
April 5th 2016


25167 Comments

Album Rating: 4.3 | Sound Off

I was looking for the word generic, he called it mediocre (not trying to play devil's advocate but something can be mediocre and not generic at all, or generic and still excellent). Either way, I get what you're saying. I don't think it is generic or mediocre, but that's just me.

Mongi123
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2016


18921 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Thanks Sowing, I actually didn't expect a staff review to come out this late haha this is a pretty big band.



Also, I wouldn't call Earth itself generic, but it definitely established a played out formula. That said, I still find most post rock to be hard to hate given how pleasant most of it is and how it's my fav genre.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2017 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy