Caspian

Dust And Disquiet

Written by: AP on 09/12/2015 20:50:39

One of the most fundamental prerequisites to finding post-rock interesting is to embrace the idea that emotion is often conveyed through, and concepts must be looked for in the instruments — not lyrics or vocals. Yet in spite of all the grandeur and intricate detail native to the genre, many of its practitioners settle just for the cinematic; they offer nothing, but in an epic format. All the more vital it is then, the existence of torch carriers like Caspian, whose understanding of embedding a message in the midst of music that would not sound misplaced on the soundtrack of some Christopher Nolan film borders on the sublime. Often the band manages to score life itself, a feat the Beverly, MA six piece achieves once more with “Ríoseco”, the second track from their latest opus “Dust and Disquiet”.

Initially, the song evokes the wonder of birth, pure and innocent, until its uplifting layers of clean guitar and soothing strings begin to shift key ever so slightly, dropping touches of turmoil here and there in anticipation of the onset of heavier riffs and crashing cymbals in the second half. Life is described in earnest, with all of the struggle and all of the hoping and dreaming forming a cyclical movement that comes full circle at the very end, tranquil and optimistic. This concept runs as the red chord through an album written in the aftermath of founding bassist Chris Friedrich’s untimely passing two years ago, all of the residual emotions from that tragedy woven into music that roars at perceived injustice, distills wisdom from the randomness, and ultimately embraces the beauty of life’s unpredictability. That word, roar, is used with careful deliberation, as it sends shivers down my spine to imagine the live renditions of “Arcs of Command” and “Echo and Abyss”; a pair of bombastic, dark and dramatic songs each with their own means to immortality. The former swells in patient increments at the crest of a looping sample before unleashing one of the most monolithic riffs heard in the genre around the 04:15 mark and then spiralling into a lead so stunning it would bring a tear to a glass eye. The latter, a similarly humbling piece of post-rock at its heaviest, enlists the weight of melancholy for its own tear induction, with guitarist Calvin Joss delivering rare mournful singing to heighten the experience.

The record then delivers the respite of a quietus with the acoustic ballad “Run Dry”, which ostensibly was written as an elegy to Friedrich, laying bare the exhaustion of grief with lyricism like ”So weep ’till you drown, or until you run dry”, before the optimism seeps back in with perhaps the most quintessentially post-rock song on the record: “Sad Heart of Mine”. From the recurring bammm-ba-bam-bam-babam drum pattern to the paradoxically bright, lingering melodies and undercurrent of rumbling bass, it is the sort of track you would expect to hear on virtually any album in this genre, and despite being of substantial quality in this respect, none of it leaves a mark as haunting and emotionally gripping as the aforementioned “Arcs of Command” and “Echo and Abyss”. Indeed, despite the fact that in isolation, both “Sad Heart…” and the following electronica-infusing “Darkfield” would pass as as prime examples of the genre, the frightening magnificence of the lead singles leaves them in dust, as it were — they have shot out and into the infinite expanse; the rest are still circling in orbit. The mammoth title track labours to take off with a storming, violin and cello backed beginning, but then settles into peaceful quiescence for much of its duration in preparation for its orchestral crescendo, a worthy conclusion to the finest post-rock album of 2015.

Caspian’s flavour of post-rock has not always appealed to me, but with “Dust and Disquiet” the sextet has written nigh the perfect match for my tastes. Crushing, emotional, and bursting at the seams with melodies galore (the band sometimes utilises four guitars when Philip Jamieson is not otherwise occupied with keyboards and synthesisers), this is post-rock at its most dazzling and evocative, and the lack of aversion towards bruising heaviness ensures even the metallically disposed should be rubbing the floor with their jaws at times. Arguably, Caspian have heaped a tad too much impact at the beginning though, and it is the absence of those all-encompassing tracks in the record’s latter half that puts me off the highest accolades.

8

Download: Ríoseco, Arcs of Command, Echo and Abyss, Dust and Disquiet
For the fans of: pg.lost, sleepmakeswaves, This Will Destroy You
Listen: Facebook

Release date 25.09.2015
Triple Crown Records

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