And So I Watch You From Afar

This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It

Written by: DY on 08/12/2007 05:00:10

I can't say I'm an avid listener of progressive instrumental music in general, but every once in a while I'll discover an album that reminds me of the delights that the genre has to offer. Plus, when an EP with the title of "This Is Our Machine And Nothing Can Stop It" lands in my review pile it's very hard to ignore. The title in itself evokes preconceptions that what lies within is going to be the product of passion and hard work, and certainly a force to be reckoned with. Over the past weeks of listening to the debut of this Belfast four piece my early optimism, I'm happy to say, was well placed in these highly impressive 5 tracks.

And So I Watch You From Afar play what is most recognizable as experimental post-rock, very much in the vein of Explosions In The Sky and Pelican. Their sound combines uplifting and spacey tones, owing to the high end melodies played out on guitar, with deep and low rhythms - often simultaneously, which produces an aural result comparable to a herd of elephants walking alongside a singing bird. The depth and scale of the sound means you can really appreciate how the low and the high tones compliment each other so perfectly. Opener, "I Capture Castles" also demonstrates the band's ability to break down passages and riffs so precisely, only to build them up again into a huge crescendo to finish.

Every time the beginning of "The Voiceless" starts playing, I fall in love with the track once more. It's a sheer masterpiece and no doubt the highlight of the EP. The beautiful song defining melody comes first, followed by the huge pounding drums that make you fear for the stability of the ground on which you are standing/sitting. After about a minute the song progresses and is transformed when it's given a pacey rhythm with the help of the kick drum and bass guitar. The melody continues and a second guitar joins and is mixed with the introduction of a rolling snare. At this point you stop, sit back and just enjoy. The song later breaks down and slows pace for a period, creating a whole new soundscape before building up with a thumping drum and launching back into the original melody with a scaling guitar soaring above it all.

The third track, "Holylands, 4am" is an absolute onslaught of sound and seems to come from absolutely nowhere, disappearing as fast as it arrives. With the first two tracks passing the 7 minute mark and this one just about managing 2, it's placement was no accident. After the first 30 seconds con you into a false sense of security, it hits you like an 18 wheeler with a drunk driver. Progression is thrown out the window to make way for a barrage of heavy riffing and sludgy guitar slides, and it all ends in an indescribable wall of distortion and effects.

"The Machine" eases you in gently before resuming the organized chaos. It features the most progressional changes of all the songs, as it weaves its way through delicate and mellow passages to storming sections with a million different things happening at once. It's impressive to say the least the way the band manage to transform atmosphere, pace, rhythm and riffs seamlessly, turning melodies from crisp to sludgy in seconds and mixing light as a butterfly passages with massively powerful moments of fast drumming and heavy distortion.

The album closes with "WPB 6am", a brilliant track characterized by the drum beat that remains constant throughout the song. Of all the tracks, this is where the band has let the influence of Explosions In The Sky show through maybe just a little too much. It's sounds like a tribute to them to be honest, but it's forgivable given the amount of individuality the band has proved through the course of the rest of the EP. The heavy guitars are absent, the beautiful fluttering melody remains, making for a light and easy way to end the 25 minutes you've spent with the band.

What And So I Watch You From Afar has managed to craft is simply awesome. They've got the balance just right in terms of progression, using their musicianship to add subtle changes where necessary during repeating passages and knowing just when to move on to entirely new atmospheres altogether whilst maintaining themes throughout so that the listener still feels like they've listened to one song from beginning to end. So as far as the EP's title goes, I'm going to be doing absolutely nothing to stop it because it's won me over outright and it's going to be the first of it's genre to make it into my regular playlist from now on. Fantastic debut.

Download: The Voiceless, I Capture Castles
For the fans of: Explosions In The Sky, Pelican
Listen: Myspace

Release Date 28.03.2007

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