22 Nov 2021 - Gene
Progressive, Post Rock, Djent, Instrumental, Metal | Release date: 12 Nov 2021
Somewhere between Plini and Porcupine Tree, noodling around with garage-goth throwback riffs and Djent rythms, A Vast Field Of Silence is sure to please the austere fret-afficionado as much as the bored Prog-head.
The Chi-town outfit’s 4th release comes 4 years after the incredibly promising Red Bird EP to deliver a brilliant Post Rock installment late in a year packed with outstanding releases. And it has come through on that promise as well as on the themes at hand. The Solar Eclipse on the cover, for one thing, seems to express exactly the band’s approach to composition, wherein they are able to accentuate without overcomplicating their essential grooves and leads by using sporadic reserve as negative space, by pulling back the intensity just a bit and exposing nuance via expert pacing.
Encouraged to listen intently with a good set of headphones, I gladly obliged. Indeed, the ground is pitch-black, the production spotless, above which you have these proggy, djenty, measured and playfully dynamic structures that never try to overwhelm with detail, never tax unduly. Yet things are far from boring; simply chill. We still drop into odd time-signatures, deft tone shifts, and heavy breakdowns in good measure, the guitar-work still dripping with evocative progressions and interesting moments. The long soaring guitar notes work particularly well jutted up against the angular rhythm structures. Not a novel idea but executed to great effect.
Memorable guitar melodies abound – the lack of which would hold any album back – but feels particularly crucial here. With greater use of space and slightly less of the sheer density of notes we experienced on the inimitable Terrapin, the melodies must be more memorable than ever, and luckily that fact has not been overlooked. The bass is deep and well-defined. The synths well-placed. The drumming next-level. Additionally, they’ve kept things concise. Many of the songs read as long-form Post Rock epics but remain largely Pop-length, and that is a shrewd achievement, to feel as though you’ve journeyed a long way without losing much time. No offense to Godspeed fans. Sometimes you just need your sonic ecstasy on the run.
Outrun The Sunlight has crafted a very fine, understated, virtuosic Post Rock album that is sure to fly under many a radar. But they have grown by leaps from their earlier works, which had already set such a high bar, refined their style, never shying from experimentation. But while many bands have gone (justifiably) primal: rawer, heavier; Outrun have gone the other way around by stepping back and languishing in those longer notes, managing to expose those most vulnerable moments within the heaviness, which we tend to take for granted. It is difficult to find fault in this record. Certainly, they could have pushed further with the sound, been more ambitious (have they played it too cool?), could have applied less polish (but should they have?); could have bolstered the sound with other elements (can’t you just see that one with vocals on top?) But these are tradeoffs that gave us a near perfect album without the need for vocals, rows of fuzz pedals or wild experimentation. This is an album that is not merely the direct result of the past 2 tremulous years but of a longer scope, of many other considerations, of long-term refinement, and it could hardly have been executed more perfectly. So pick up your headphones of choice and find a comfortable space to experience A Vast Field Of Silence, one of the low-key greatest releases of the year!