Posts Tagged ‘Dynamics’

Septaphonic Records – 7th October 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

While Dystopian Future Movies’ ‘difficult’ second album, Inviolate, took a full three years to land after debut Time, their third, War of the Ether crashed in after just over two, and it’s an immense sonic documents that the Nottingham trio have compiled in this time.

Back in the spring of 2020, I wrote of Inviolate that ‘Everything about Inviolate is bigger, bolder, more pronounced and yet more nuanced, shaper and more keenly felt and articulated. And every corner of the album is imbued with a sense of enormity, both sonic and emotional: Inviolate feels major-scale, from the driving riffs to the heartfelt human intensity.’ That amplification is again true of War of the Ether. Dystopian Future Moves’ previous releases amply demonstrate a band with both an interest in and a knack for the cinematographic, the dramatic, so it stands to reason that they should extend these focal elements here.

This time around they’ve drawn inspiration from little-reported but truly horrifying events which took place at the former Catholic-run Tuam Mother and Baby Home in songwriter Caroline Cawley’s native Ireland, where 796 skeletons found in the grounds after suspicions were raised by a local historian in 2012. As the press release explains, ‘to hide the shame of pregnancy outside of wedlock, women were sent to homes like this all over the country – forcibly separated from their mothers, many of the children died in infancy due to neglect, and some were trafficked for adoption to the US. The country is still dealing with the fallout from these discoveries.’

War of the Ether is not a joyful record. It is, however, a record with real depth, and imbued with real emotion, as well as an aching sense of tragedy. And, as has been established as Dystopian Future Movies’ signature style, it’s an album which balances riffs and restraint, and is built on atmosphere and menace. They promise an album that ‘explores a wide range of genres from prog and shoegaze to doom-metal, noise-rock and folk,’ and don’t disappoint.

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War of the Ether opens – somewhat daringly – with the ten-minute spoken word crawler that is ‘She From Up the Drombán Hill’. For the most part, it’s sparse and spare, tingling guitars gently rippling behind the narrative – but there are bursts off noise, and it swells and grows and when it kicks in, it kicks in hard with piledriving riffage. The dynamics absolutely blow you away – exactly as intended. ‘Critical mass’ is appropriately titles, starting out with a haunting, echoed clean guitar and delicate drums rolling in the distance as a backdrop to Cawley’s aching, melodic vocal as it stretches and soars, and ‘The veneer’ is a magnificent slow-burner that builds to a shimmering sustained crescendo which unusually fades at the end. Against the weight of the subject matter and brooding instrumentation, it feels somewhat frivolous to focus on a fade, but it serves to highlight the many ways DFM are outside trends and exist in their own space. This is never more apparent than on the dreamy but serrated buzzing shoegaze of the title track.

For all its darkness, War of the Ether is a remarkably accessible album – not on account of its myriad hooks and killer choruses, but because it is simply so strong on melody and so utterly captivating. And because, as they demonstrate admirably on ‘No Matter’, the album’s shortest and most overtly structured song – they do have a real knack for snagging the listener with the combination of tunefulness and megalithic riffery. And then, the final track, the eight-and-a-half-minute ‘A Decent Class of Girl’ brings together all aspects of the album in a powerful accumulation of sedate, strolling psychedelia and climactic crescendos that optimise the impact of both.

Magical, majestic, and immensely widescreen, the scope of War of the Ether is simply breathtaking, and leaves you feeling stunned. Awesome in the literal sense.


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19th November 2021

Christopher Nosnibor

For a time, Maybeshewill were one of the definitive acts during the golden age of post-rock – and here in 2021 it’s possible to reflect and appreciate that the mid-noughties really was a peak time for the genre. Certainly in the circles I moved, every gig was wall-to-wall post rock, or otherwise there was at least one instrumental act on the bull, brimming with chiming guitars and epic crescendos. They were good times, too, and however quickly it moved from fresh to formulaic, there was a sense of excitement about this music you could lose yourself in. It felt like a moment in time, it felt like a movement, and it was exciting, particularly in Leeds and particularly around The Brudenell, which felt like something of an epicentre with its growing profile. But then again, smaller venues like The Packhorse were also showcasing so many emerging acts all doing that Explosions in the Sky thing.

During this time, Maybeshewill were one of the bands that stood out: while exploiting the template, they also expanded it with the use of strings and samples – plus, they were simply bloody good. And they still are. The title is, perhaps, an allusion to the fact that having called it a day, spent, back in 2016 they have decided to return to both the live forum and recorded a new album.

This recent reanimation was unexpected, but perhaps the last thing we expected to open Maybeshewill’s long-awaited comeback album is a thumping sequenced drum and squelching synth bubble. But then it yields to a rippling piano and a wash of surging, soaring strings and immediately we’re transported to a space of expansive, emotionally-charged instrumental post rock. The three and a half minutes of ‘We’ve Arrived at the Burning Building’ is perfect Maybeshewill – dramatic, expansive, dynamic.

Lead single ‘Zarah’ is up next, with samples lifted from the premier speech from MP Zarah Sultana at its core. It first perfectly into the early arc of the album, and it’s a great track, and anyone who says music and politics shouldn’t mix is wrong. Musicians have a platform that is theirs to use as they see fit, and to see Maybeshewill using their platform in this way is encouraging.

The strings really dominate the arrangements on this album, but there’s a lot of texture and a lot of detail, and propulsive drumming shapes the structures of the songs. ‘Complicity’ is exemplary, as it transitions from a driving swell to a loping, contemplative mid-section that slows the pace before exploding into a fill battery of strings, a barrage of live and electronic percussion, looping piano and driving guitars. Yes, it takes you back at least, if you were there at the time – but it also feels perfectly contemporary and forward-facing.

‘Invincible Summer’ alludes to both Krautrock and 80s AOR with its motoric beat and looping synths and clean guitar that nags away crisply, while ‘The Weight of Light’ is one of those tunes that simply makes you sag with sadness. It possesses an aching beauty, and the surging crescendo is simultaneously uplifting and utterly crushing. There’s a lot going on: ‘Refuturing’ takes a twist into mellow jazz territory, while ‘Green Unpleasant land’ makes a further political statement without words, a gnarly tempest of guitar-driven disquiet.

If the chiming, rolling, mellow ripplings that build to a thunderous storm on the seven-minute-forty-five ‘Even Tide’ is classic post—rock to the point of cliché and bordering on historical with its use of soaring guitars and sustained crescendos, then the brass is very much a departure, and it paves the way for the final salvoes of the seven-minute ‘The Last Hours’ that spirals and soars into the truly epic territories, and the rolling, piano-led ‘Tomorrow’, that sweeps in a wave of optimism.

Together these two tacks draw the album to an exhilarating yet measured close. It’s everything that’s defined the band over the course of their career, making this a most welcome return and an outstanding addition to their catalogue.



Send The Wood – 28th January 2018

James Wells

Antagonism Of The Soul represents the culmination of five years of work or French metal act Insolvency (a name that’s more suggestive of a punk band, perhaps, although it’s clearly been no hindrance to their connecting with an audience on their home turf).

If the instrumental intro track, with its cinematic strings, rolling piano and brooding atmospherics, all woven together to form a mellifluous melody is a shade cliché, it sets a degree of expectation for the album as a whole.

Insolvency’s style is centred around contrast and juxtaposition and the uptempo. The clean / guttural vocal interactions which define the sound is matched by driving, distorted rhythm guitar chug and soaring, melodic and highly technical lead work. There’s a lot of technical proficiency on display here, as it happens: the rapidfire drumming is dynamic and intense, and there are tempo changes galore, meaning the songs feel as if they’re in constant transition. So, while the elements are commonplace, the execution and the delivery are far from it. Insolvency pack an awful lot into each of the five-minute segments, and these miniature epics are finely honed, and the production does them justice: it’s polished, but not so overly slick as to sand off the edges. It’s crisp, but still has bite, and balances aggression and emotional resonance.

There are hooks and some epic choruses, but they’re never overplayed, and for all of the heavy metal thunder, there are elements of prog and atmospheric post-rock in the mix. It all equates to an album with depth and range.


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