Pompeii

Loom

Written by: TL on 19/11/2014 18:15:46

Having been compared to Sigur Rós and having toured alongside the likes of The Appleseed Cast, Caspian and This Will Destroy You, it's safe to assume even if you have no relationship with Texas quartet Pompeii prior to their recently released third album "Loom", that their music falls under the post-rock umbrella. It's a corner of rock music which separates itself differently than other genres, with bands more often than not opting to interpret the term by ruling out vocals and conventional songstructure completely, and for that reason the challenge in the genre is to make these deviations from the beaten path worth it.

With "Loom", Pompeii move forward with a sound where vocals do have a role to play, in form of the clear, introverted singing style of guitarist Dean Stafford, yet it's clear that his role is less than central. Instead the group's songs shy repetition in favour of building each set of bars as extensions upon the former, making each track a single movement, escalated and measured, where the instrumental soundscape is intended to be highly immersive and ambiant. More so than signature riffage, you'll hear guitars setting up the songs via chiming note patterns, ringing tremolo or booming chords, with the melodic elements being introduced one by one, either building up layers, moving from one level of intensity to another, or both.

The upside to "Loom" is that while the band retains a homogenous melodiousness across the record, the songs still explore enough different moods and tempi to make it too diverse a listen for the listener to get bored. Its main limitation is that each song keeps a very constant rhythmic backbone, with the beat merely varying in intensity while the pulse is kept steady, as if this firm foundation has felt necessary for the band to build the pristine melodic figures they do. This makes it a bit predictable as the album proceeds, when exactly the next musical movement is going to come.

The lack of otherwise ear-catching surprises or dynamics is counterbalanced partly by the inclusion of Stafford's vocals however, particularly in a standout track like "Frozen Planet", which is among the faster tracks, where a warm bass signature draws you in during the verse, and where the increase in tension in Stafford's singing on the latter half of the song helps engage the listener. By extension the song "Blueprint", which arrives two songs later, is another high mark, galloping into the night straight away almost like a brooding indie-rock track, keeping the listener nicely at bay until the song's third quarter, during which the composition escalates in orchestral fashion with Stafford raising his voice and upping the tempo in his melodies.

Overall, Pompeii have created in "Loom" an album that jumps at the listener from the moment the synthesized bass notes lift the opening title track, as if to cement straight away that they're a worthy contributor to the development of the post-rock landscape. This much is beyond questioning, also because Stafford's singing is so tasteful in the balance between sounding affected and yet controlled. Beyond the obvious however, the ten tracks on offer are diverse enough, and their musical developments are well-timed enough, to make "Loom" a record best listened to alone, where you can either appreciate each detail via full concentration or simply let the mesmerizing tones lull you to sleep. It's an album equally good for either, yet as a result of the carefully restrained rhythms and lack of thoroughly striking climaxes or surprises, it doesn't completely resolve the genre's inherent challenges to measure up with the best records in rock at large. If you're already into post-rock however, and fully accept the premises that both define and challenge the genre's potential, then you can safely lend a listen to this one.

7

Download: Frozen Planet, Blueprint, Sleeper
For The Fans Of: Sigur Rós, The Unwinding Hours, Moving Mountains (on their self titled)
Listen: facebook.com/pompeiimusic

Release date 14.10.2014
Red Eye Transit Records

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