First of all, let me say that I am full of respect for the work that A Thousand Arms does for the post-rock community in making these compilations. For me, these compilations are a huge inspiration to dive into new unknown music, at least unknown to me that is. Although I knew a few of the band on this compilation, it has once again opened my eyes towards other really cool acts.
And my favorite from this compilation is a band I did not know beforehand.
Below you can read me immediate thoughts on every track on the compilation and I have also awarded each track with up to 5 . But please don’t take it for more than it is, give all the songs a listen yourself, I might be way off :-).
You can listen to the full compilation right here :
You.May.Die.In.The.Desert – Patient Glaciers
I think this is a bit thin, I have some problems with their sound quality. The drums are somewhat thin, the guitars a bit too far away in the mix, and the bass too dominant. Can you sound too eager, yes you can, i think the drums are way too much all over the place and kind of destroying it for the song. I mean it’s not necessary to have a fill every single round.
Besides that, it’s an ok song, nothing special in my opinion, but a good start. Work more on refining the sound and songs and I think it will be pretty good
Kalouv – Depois do Escuro
This one starts quite different. At first, I think some semi-industrial stuff, but really changes to some new wave-ish, coldwave stuff, with machinist drums a heavy end bass (synth??) on top, and then the chorus reverbed guitars on top.
Being quite fond of new wave and cold wave, this is an eye-opener for me. It’s an interesting blend of coldwave and post-rock and also a vague inspiration from some math stuff as well.
Thumbs up for a different song and I really enjoy the hypnotizing end.
Gullwing – Eris
Eris opens to be an epic one. At first, I think it’s a bit vague, but grows on me, when the song intensifies, and especially around 4 minutes in, everything melts well together in a very uplifting way.
I’m not so keen on the ending though. Overall pretty ok song.
Wozniak – Ghosting
I don’t know what I had expected from this, but the name gave me an association to partly the tennis player, but also some dark art maybe gothic music.
And of the two we are closest to the latter in form of the gothic themes. It actually does remind me a bit of some 80’s goth acts. the melodies and the bass lines, have me thinking of both the cure and sisters of mercy.
I would wish the fuzzed guitar was a bit heavier in the sound, but even now it is almost drowning the drums, which is a pity.
A very nice detail of this song is the vocals in the end. I really enjoy that. It fits so good that they are only present in the end parts.
Give this band a bit better production and they will shine..
Outlander – Downtime
OK… 11:21 this is one the demanding ones. When you make a song that is on the other side of 10 minutes you better have a good idea what to do with it. A song of this length really needs to have a red thread or a voyage within to be something.
And Wow… chills, the beginning of this song is just pure bliss for the soul, the long ringing sonic spheres of guitars, before the even more sonically broad dreamy guitars dig in.. I’m all in, dreaming along.
Outlander takes their time and the beauty lies in the silence, the will, and art to make excellent meditative journeys where the small breathing holes, makes the rest of the song stand so beautifully out.
It is not because there is no noise or anything because there is plenty of that, but the contrasts and the way the song is played is just super engaging.
When Downtime breaks into thousand pieces after 5 minutes and the song slowly builds up from these shattered pieces, just to tear everything apart in an ear-ripping, mastodonic abyss before ending everything in a majestic, yet catastrophic wall of sound, leaving the listener a last moment of ringing, delayed guitar melodies.
It’s hard to let go of this, so I will have to listen once more, and definitely check out more of this band.
Through A Glass, Darkly – Until Light Failed Me
Until Light Failed Me is a quite chaotic tune. From the beginning, we have endless noisy guitar and bass drowning everything.
It’s very droning and doomy, and at first few moments I was thinking that it is too muddy to enjoy, but I’m wrong, it is more a premise of the song and actually works quite well when you get used to the chaos, especially since the chaos evolves and gets more and more heavy and roaring. And then right there, halfway through, chaos fades and a beautiful hypnotic melody enters the hall. I am really enjoying this now.
That simple melody on top of the dreamy distant echoing guitars and the whole ending part is just a pure joy to listen to. It is a joy that the song ends without a last chaotic final but simply continues the firm grasp on the listener with the dreamy guitars right to the end.
Shy, Low – Dissension
Shy, Low is kind of math-rock with balls. Definitely some elements from math-rock, but have just a more brutal sound and especially the heavy distorted bass gives a good foundation for this.
This is high energy and with quite good melodies haunting the listener.
I enjoy the guitar harmony piece in the mid where everything builds up again. When arriving at the end where staccato fills and cool guitar licks end it all where it began, you’re pretty sure that you want to listen once more.
Girih – Eigengrau
Cool band name and Girih sounds just like what it is. Hypnotic pattern repetitive math-rock.
That guitar tapping that just keeps on going, and then at some point we have the more brutal guitars and symphonic keys kicking in.
So again we have a math act with balls, and definitely a red thread to a band like Russian Circles. This guitar tapping is just holding the listener so close to the music and even after the short slow intermezzo, I still just wait for the tapping to come back, but first a build up and instead of the tapping we have drilling guitars and they really work well as well, but I would really have enjoyed a bit more of the tapping part.
One thing, if the guitar sound could be heavier I think it would really lift the song, tune down a bit more.
Also a band I will have to check out more
Hallowed – Malak
Wow.. 26 minutes, phew… That is one long track, almost only GYBE! has been able to pull this off.
Starts off very promising and I must say very GYBEish. It is all very hypnotic and massive, building more and more, layer after layer and here around 8 minutes in, I am still held captive by the enormous sound, but it also nearly stops here, as if opening another song.
So this part 2 is, for me at least, another song, but it has the same quality as the first. It is really quite engaging and keeps the listener around.
The same is true for this last part of the track. It literally feels like three different pieces of music, albeit with a strong red thread. And this last part is the one that stands most out and shows off a more original sound, with a way more mellow and dreamy soundscape.
It was 26 minutes well spent and Hallowed really have something interesting going on, although I do think the two first parts are a bit too close to GYBE! to be original. Nothing wrong with that, just we have GYBE! already, and if you like GYBE! you should really give Hallowed a spin.
For me, part 3 was the best.
Vyctoria – Ascenso-Descenso
Dusty guitar opens this song like a standdown from a western movie. Spiced with violin and laid back drums it sounds very good. It really sounds like a soundtrack to a western movie or something. Slowly the song grows and the violin takes more and more lead of the sonic landscape, almost vaporizing the background guitar. But the guitar takes revenge shortly after with intense drilling, just to be mocked down even more by the violin.
Overall I quite like this tune, but I think it could really need some polishing and production to give a better broad sound.
In Lights – Memory
First of it reminds a bit of Mike Oldfield, I’m not sure why, but there’s just something about the sound of the guitars. But obviously it evolves and the music goes more towards dramatic high lifted post-rock, with the use of violin, while the guitars drill away. The sound is a bit flat, and I think the melodies are somewhat vague. It’s not bad, but it’s not really standing out in any way. I think In Lights are well on their way, but just not there yet.
Oldernar – Universal Language
Universal Language starts really interesting with a fucked up synth-like sound before guitar starts on top and at the first reminds of some post-rock beginning. After a short, while it is pretty obvious though that this is math-rock. And if there’s one thing about math-rock, then it is, that you have to be pretty skilled to pull it off.
Oldernar plays ok, but they are miles away from the contestants on this compilation and I think that especially the drums are too laid back for the genre. Oldernar should just keep going and practicing then there will come something pretty good out of it I will say. Lot’s of fine ideas, but it’s missing out on technical skill and to some extent also captivating songwriting.
Forgotten In The Woods Again – This Is What Happens When People Have Ideas
I love the title of this song.
A good opening with a memorable melody embraced in distant keys and dead simple drums. But ok after almost 3 minutes I’m kind of waiting for something to happen and more than just some backward guitars.
I mean the melody is fine, but still, some development would have been nice.
I’m sorry but this gets more enervating than innovating and sure there is a slight increase in sound and some screaming guitar after a while, but it doesn’t cut it for me, at least.
Ending it all in some chaotic sound mess is not especially creative in my opinion, just lack ideas. A pity since it started off pretty good.
Glories – As Walls Keep Shifting
And here a great band name. I like that name. It kind of says what to expect. As Walls Keep Shifting opens very majestic with loads of keys and piano before the clean melodic guitars kick in. It’s all very grand. I enjoy the production a lot on this one. Crisp and clear with loads of headroom. I enjoy the guitars supporting each other so good and also the way both the drums and bass fill in the gap as the solid deep end of this song. The slight choir vocals are lifting the music beautifully before the more melodic guitar solo like piece kicks in. Even though I would characterize this as post-rock I think it has some elements of classic rock, that is working quite well for Glories.
Especially the fact that there is something you could characterize as a guitar solo. Well done. I wouldn’t mind a bit more heavy end guitar chords or just some fuzz on the bass though.
All in all an enjoyable journey where the ear is not only pleased with gentle atmospheric post-rock, but also more dense and noisy stuff as well as energetic and complex math-rock.
Obviously, my favorite band on this compilation is without any doubt Outlander from Birmingham, UK . I really suggest you give the full EP a listen here :
But not only Outlander delivered some great music on this compilation, there are strong runner-ups in Through A Glass, Darkly, Wozniak, Shy, Low, Girih, and Hallowed. You should really also give them a listen.
And especially Through A Glass, Darkly has been growing on me afterward, do give their full album a listen