17 Mar 2023 - Knut
Post Rock | Kapitän Platte | Release date: 17 Mar 2023 | Favorite song: Dresden
The past and present time rumbling, the past and present time crumbling, the past and present time in chaos. The ruin and resilience of the people who are victims of decisions made far from their reach. This is the backdrop for this new expansive album by the German Post-Rockers of Fargo. It might be as close as we come to music reflecting the turmoil of our times and at the same time reflecting a ravaged Europe nearly eight decades ago.
As with the previous two EPs, they name their tracks after German cities. This gives the music a certain reflective resonance. And as Europe is once more finding itself amid the mayhem of a raging war closeby after a pandemic, the rumbling of the low-end down-tuned bass guitar provides a foreboding sense throughout the album. At the same time, the soaring emotional high-pitched melodic guitars are like winds of hope and resilience.
It is nine years since their last release, an EP that showed a visionary band capable of keeping your attention through two eleven minutes long instrumental tracks. This new album contains four instrumental tracks, each clocking in around nine minutes. This provides the musicians with time to develop each track into twists and turns, ebb and flow using their instruments to pour out emotive music.
Like many bands in the Post Rock genre when releasing new albums in these times, Fargo has also gone heavier and more intense on their new release. In a vibrant and flourishing genre, it is crucial to stick to the genre’s demands and at the same time try to build a distinct sound that stands out in this crowded genre.
One of the elements that define Fargo, to my ears, is the sense that the bass guitar seizes its down-tuned sound from Sludge and Stoner Metal and fuses it into the soaring, cinematic sounds of the guitars. The contrast between the bass and the guitars driven forward by the drums adds energy and profoundness to the music. The bass is devastating, and the soaring guitars very often edify, inspiring hope.
This duality exists throughout the album and becomes evident on the first track, ”Dresden”, where there is a section when a heavily extended surging upwards is led by the deep-end bass as glistening guitars soar above, sprinkling sparks of yearning. A sudden shift breaks into a section with the bass pounding alone accompanied by screaming vocals at the start. The drums join in, infusing an energic pace into this heavy section. Far away, a high-pitched guitar is trying to make its way into the heaviness. It carries on, climbing upwards to once again soar above the edges. In the end, as the bass rumbles on, the high-tuned tremolo guitars push forward and onwards with much emotional yearning.
It might seem a bit odd to focus so much on the bass as I have done, as the music of course is guitar driven as are all Rock and Post Rock music. Right from the very heavy riffs opening the first track, through all tracks the guitars are all over the place; they’re swirling around the bass and drums in the many layers of sound on this album. Additionally, they also enlarge the sonics as they do in the opening of ”Regensburg” with sound effects from the guitars and playing the clean strings while the bass lingers in the corner. The drums tap in, moving the tempo forward as the guitars join the bass in the same beat, and far in the background, a fuzzy wah-wah guitar appears. At the end of this track, there is a wonderful upsurge when the emotive music goes forward with an increased tempo, faster and faster until the guitar lingers above the bass drums and rolling bass.
”Berlin” also has this slightly foreboding opening with guitars and a bass waiting deep down somewhere and the music seeps through with guitar effects, even playing backward. A lone guitar with echo effects begins tapping into the melodic theme which is formed while the rhythm section holds the rhythm in harmony with another strumming guitar. The song is quite diverse with twists and turns in the manifold layers. Then the low-end bass goes deep as the distorted transparent guitars play elongated riffs. The drums drive the music forward to a swirling end with guitars flying high over the bass, like starlings in a flock back and forth. Bass and drums hammer heavy rhythms below the rising guitars.
A sample of Winston Churchill´s famous “We shall fight on the beaches”-speech on June 4, 1940, closes the last track ”Pforzheim”. And with that, the band adds a powerful dimension to the album´s music; the depths of its connotations become even stronger. I urge you to read the band´s statement about this on their Bandcamp page. It will give you a deeper understanding of the visions behind their music as you listen to the album. This track opens with swirling guitars before a heavy riffing onslaught sets in led by the low-end bass and high in the background a slightly distorted high-pitched repetitive guitar. Before the speech sample, the music comes to a halt before it crumbles into a hole of deep dark sonics with the guitars hovering, slowly fading away to make space for some clear echoing strumming, and a deep bass to escort the voice sample and after that fade away reflecting the speech´s significance in today´s turbulent times.