And So I Watch You From Afar - Jettison

20 Feb 2022 - Wouter

Post-Rock , Alternative Rock | Equal Vision Records / Velocity Records | Release date: 18 Feb 2022

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”Uplifting”, “transcending” and “transformative” are terms I seem to be using more often lately when writing about and describing music. And although I think it could very well be my own association with the music and therefore a reflection of my own state of mind, it is still the best description I can come up with when describing Jettison by And So I Watch You From Afar (ASIWYFA). Especially when listening to Jettison as a whole, fittingly called a score by the band, the music takes the listener on an associative, euphoric and exploratory journey of one’s state of mind.

At Veil Of Sound, we aim to lift the veil off underground music. And while I realize ASIWYFA might not fit the underground label anymore, the path they have chosen in writing Jettison is certainly a deviation from what most people will expect from them. The band from Belfast, Ireland have released their most ambitious work ever. Collaborations with Sam Wiehl for visual accompaniment, The Arco String Quartet and a dialogue by Emma Ruth Rundle and Neil Fallon have resulted in what the band themselves call a multimedia album.

The full Jettison score is divided into chapters. ”Chapter I, Dive pt 1” offers the listener intricate guitars and strings that seem to offer an outstretched hand, as to say “would you like to go on a journey with us”. Accompanied by a spoken word passage by Emma Ruth Rundle ”Dive pt 1” takes the listener by the hand straight into ”Chapter II, Dive pt 2”, which introduces upbeat drums and percussion paired with guitars and strings in the same feel of ”Dive pt 1”. The path we have chosen to follow the band feels like an exciting and hopeful one, after the first two chapters, going back is no longer an option. Onwards!

”Chapter III, Lung”, is a glimpse into the realm people know of ASIWYFA from earlier releases. The bass and the odd time signature and complex guitar patterns feel lush and heavy at the same time. It is only a short two-minute glimpse though, as we are being pulled onwards by the hand into ”Chapter IV, Air”. A spoken word passage by Neil Fallon and a quick bass line intrigue and paint a story about laying beside someone and being in love and feeling the excitement of life and happiness. The uplifting string arrangement further strengthens the positive stage set by the dialogue. The theme is build up and makes the heart jump several times before throwing the listener off an emotional dissonant cliff and into more melancholy territory for ”Chapter V, Hold”.

On ”Hold”, Neil Fallon, like the listener, wonders if we have been here before. Emma Ruth Rundle acknowledges our feeling, we have been here once before. A deep, subdued-sounding kick drum drives the listener further on the chosen path. Heartstrings are gently pulled by minimalist but beautiful guitar parts. The Arco String Quartet and a rolling snare turns the somber atmosphere around to hopeful and shortly reassures the listener can safely continue to the next chapter.

”Chapter VI, Submerge”, is a bombastic and powerful explosion that redeems the tension build up until now. It is amazing how well the string arrangements support the other instruments throughout the score, in the loud structures as well as in the more atmospheric compositions. It gives a really rich feel to the score. ”Chapter VII, Emerge” is an answer to ”Submerge”, it changes the mood from bombastic to up-tempo and roaring.

When ”Chapter VIII, Jettison”, starts, it is clear the listener is running downhill and is quickly nearing the end of the path traveled together. ”Jettison” is the culmination of everything that has been presented to the listener on this “score” until now. The strings lift the listener up, we are not running anymore, we are flying. The power that radiates from ”Jettison” is amazing. I am somehow convinced that when you try running through a wall while listening to this song, the wall doesn’t stand a chance. It is mesmerizing at the same time. Every instrument is going all out, bursting with energy. The production is fantastic, you can pick out a different instrument each time you listen to this score and it feels like it is given center stage each time.

In ”Chapter IX, A.D. Poet”, it is clear the end of the path has been reached. It is time to part ways and say goodbye, knowing all have grown while walking it together, but slowly returning to what the reality we know and is familiar to us, and are welcomed by that reality in the voice of Emma Ruth Rundle: “I’ve missed you”.

I am not a ASIWYFA expert by any stretch of imagination. But I have listened to the band enough through the years to say that by taking a step off the beaten path they have accomplished something truly memorable and transformative. Jettison is such an inspiring and moving score of music that will forever change whatever anyone has thought the band to be into something new. Whatever that new is, Jettison proves it will be awe inspiring.