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Explosions In The Sky - Travels in Constants (Vol. 21): The Rescue CD (album) cover

TRAVELS IN CONSTANTS (VOL. 21): THE RESCUE

Explosions In The Sky

 

Post Rock/Math rock

2.89 | 26 ratings

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Neu!mann
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Number 21 in a series of 23 mini-albums commissioned by the TRL record label works almost like a biographical sketch: a week in the life of Explosions in the Sky. The Austin post-rockers, normally very deliberate in their songwriting, challenged themselves for this project, approaching it with no planning, no premeditation, no rehearsals, and the goal of recording one complete track each day for eight days, with a further six reserved for mixing.

It must have been an intense experience, but you wouldn't know it from the unaffected ease of the finished product. Supposedly there's a concept of sorts behind the music, recalling a nervous week after the band's tour van broke down in western New York, stranding the quartet in a stranger's attic, where they "read books and watched blizzards and ate Chinese food and went sort of nuts" (quoting their own account). Not exactly epic subject matter, but it was never meant as an epic album.

In another setting any one of these tracks might have been the ground floor to a much larger structure. Here each day's output was designed to be self-sufficient, and that conceptual simplicity extends to the music itself: miniatures of understated mood and emotion, all of them refreshingly short and sweet (only one cracks the five-minute ceiling). Working on a smaller canvas may have yielded smaller results, but good things often hide in undersized gift wrap, and by not allowing themselves any time to develop and polish each piece of music the band attained a level of spontaneity seldom heard in their more ambitious recordings. No time is wasted on superfluous gestures: once an idea is played out, the song stops.

Don't bother listening for any narrative or thematic continuity. Each piece is a stand-alone unit, collectively flowing together very well. The wordless voices on "Day Two" and elsewhere add a celestial halo to the usual twin-guitar textures. And the gentle, Fripp-like sustains of "Day Three" provide a magical counterpoint to the mundane audio-vérité discussion of the cost to repair a busted transmission: the earthbound dialogue intersecting sharply with the soaring harmonics.

There was always an element of cinematic drama to the music of Explosions in the Sky. And this modest album, brief as it is, could have been a warm-up to the band's later soundtrack sessions. The album is no longer offered as a freebie on their website, but by all means stop by the merchandise table at your next EitS concert and pick up a copy. Support a worthy cause, and reward yourself with some worthwhile music.

Neu!mann | 3/5 |

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