17 Apr 2020 - Thorsten
Post-Rock | Bird's Robe Records | Release date: 17 Apr 2020
After a few years’ silence, Australian post-rock masters iiah are back with another cinematic, ascending album full of melodic miracles.
Post-rock with or without vocals – an everlasting, ongoing discussion without an end. In the case of Adelaide-based five-piece iiah it is not a question, and their answer is probably “if”. Yes, if necessary. No, if unnecessary. Basically that means that they will not limit their soundscape for a fixed answer that might be wrong for some songs.
On their second album Terra, just released on Bird’s Robe Records, the band uses instrumental arrangements to start their long-awaited collection of songs. Long-awaited because their first full-length Distances from 2017 was a huge hit in the post-rock scene and some people compared the band to the everlasting icons Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Although no band should be compared to the folks from Montreal, this might in some way really be the best comparison for iiah, as their sound also relies heavily on the dynamics and usage of crescendo while never lacking some near-metal drums, a mix of fragility and strength. However, of course, that scrutiny might be a bit too early for iiah, but who knows where this band will go, because for them is really wide open, basically.
The scenarios drawn up on Terra seemingly span a lot of different “locations”; sometimes one has the feeling of standing under an irregular waterfall, some time else as is crossing a mountain range where the air gets thinner and thinner. One thing that really struck me when listening to the record was the way that the drumming is growing on me. First, I had the notion that it is rather conventional drumming for this genre, but after listening to it a few more times I got to appreciate the way Matthew Stedman mixes a good portion of heavy pounding with some nice arhythmical shuffles. The piano and synth elements on certain songs really give an argument for the wrongfulness of the GYBE-comparison: iiah is always warm, never tense; it’s embracing, not challenging. That can also be said of the vocals by Tim Day, because his voice is sometimes pretty drawn out; very much like an instrument often seemingly singing melodies rather than actual words. That notion is also evident when you remember that he doesn’t “sing” on every song. Nonetheless, the most important group for iiah are the three guitars that are definitely necessary to weave so many spirals, crescendos, roll-overs, delays, (small) drones over each other. Really impressive is that it never is too much, the five guys always seem to feel what next step would be taking it over the top.
Maybe a too-frequent use of vocals would do so, but who knows if? Well, iiah knows that for sure, they know their own “if necessaries”.