The Ascensionist is the coming album from US post-rockers Ranges, and this is a review of the title song, from that album.
Title songs are usually quite representative of the album they stand for and let’s hope this is the case with The Ascensionist.
The song’s opening is beautiful and warm and reminds my quite a lot of americana heroes Mercury Rev. It sounds like something that could have been lifted of the prime opus of Mercury Rev: Deserters Songs or All is Dream. The dream like sounds, with the piano slowly transforming to a dusty tape recording before the key element of the song engages the listener. A strong memorable and simple guitar figure.
It doesn’t take long though, before you realize that you are not listening to Mercury Rev, but instead Ranges. It’s quite easy for me to say, that you’re listening to Ranges, because this song has the signature sound and melody universe of specifically Ranges and not some other post-rock band.
Ranges are their own and I think they have refined their musical expression to a few mantras. At least that is what I hear, anyway.
- Defined memorable melodies over cascades of sound, drilling and buildups
- Simplicity over complexity
- Less is more and less is adequate
A landmark in post-rock history
It’s not that Ranges don’t use some of the classic post-rock traits. It’s instrumental, it’s cinematic, it builds over time. But Ranges are just more effective in writing compelling songs. They definitely lends from post-rock, but also lends from more classic indie/alternative songwriting.
I hear post-rock in Ranges, but I also hear a lot of that updated americana that, for example, Mercury Rev stands for. I hear alt.country, I hear War On Drugs. All this is mixed together well in the cauldron to make engaging, vivid and passionate tales. With The Ascensionist, you are really not thinking about post-rock before little over half way through the song actually. This is definitely a strength of the son.
The Ascensionist is a remarkable example of just that. If this song and The Greater Lights are pointers to what we can expect from the full album, we will experience a landmark in post-rock history.
Not only can you take a listen to this song, but you can also do yourself a huge favour and look at the video at the same time. This is a fine piece of work.