27 Mar 2020 - Thorsten
Post-Rock | Art As Catharsis | Release date: 27 Mar 2020
Thinking man’s Post-Rock can easily be converted to Feeling man’s Post-Rock - Whale Fall’s latest record proves so!
Post-Rock is often said to be thinking man’s genre and thus associated with structure, reflection and not very much spontaneity. Listen to Tortoise’s TNT or Godspeed You! Black Emperor’s Luciferian Dreams or even Radiohead’s OK Computer, and that might become clearer. Here the listener is faced with loads of multi-layered, strongly-constructed and in a way also pretty self-reflective records where apparently no tone is in its wrong place. If something spontaneous happens it is happening in a concert-situation where deviation from the original “script” might be even wished for. Or it is really small thing (like the pun in Mogwai’s “Dial:Revenge” sung by Super Furry Animals’s Welsh singer, who told them that ‘Dial’ is Welsh for ‘Revenge’).
However, this cannot be said for the new Whale Fall record It Will Become Itself which is based on a 38-minute-jam-session with all the band members once in a while be attending in Los Angeles back in 2018. The quintet usually records all the things they come up with during such a session and thus it also happened with what then later on became the new record. A few months later, they un-chested this treasure from the box and remembered that they all had really liked that session. When listening to it they discovered that this was basically a new record in its first unpolished stages.
Then the five-piece went about polishing up as they say it and added a small piano prelude (which incidentally was another spontaneous outburst by one of their former contributors) and after a bit It Will Become itself became what it is now – Whale Fall’s fourth full-length, released by the band in collaboration with Sydney’s Art as Catharsis label.
This record has all the makings of a regular jam-session record without the annoying jam-session character with lots of musicians too often trying to display their own skills and thus forgetting the song or band. Fortunately, Whale Fall is an assembly of highly-talented musicians playing various instruments (including several wind instruments) and after nearly a decade of playing together seem to have connected a lot. This becomes clear when you listen to the opus magnum of the record, “El Caracol” (English ‘the slug’). It is an 18 minute long track with an intricate use of the cornet and flugelhorn lending their soft, warm vibrations to a slowly progressing. A few weeks ago, Ramper also published another brilliant long track using winds in post-rock (Nuestros mejores deseos) and some very jazzy connotations – is there trend going on here?
One should also remark that there are some minor “mistakes” on the record (can one really talk about mistakes on a jam-session record?) like a bit too overpowered guitars or the drums not defined well-enough. Nevertheless, this is the charming thing about It Will Become Itself - the record established itself against all obstacles. A genesis unto itself, so to speak. Of course, this concurs with the later going back to the recording and realizing the foundations of a mesmerizing record.
Now, this record will pop up on some lists at the end of the year and not even surprisingly so, because it is a good combination of what one likes about post-rock, the wall-of-sound, the constructing and looping, interesting instrumentation etc. But it is even more, it is a testament to the abilities of this band. If they are able to perform this on the go, then boy, many other bands will be jealous of it because their reflections will not lead them to such an elegant and powerful performance.