Tuesday, 29 January 2013

How Comes The Constellations Shine - Mémoire

Album review by kev@thesoundofconfusion.co.uk


Post-rock. A bit like metal and hip-hop, it's one of those genres you're either going to love or hate, particularly in its pure form as found here. The ray of hope for people who prefer stuff like tunes and all that jazz, is that post-rock can occasionally burst open and soar with no small amount of majesty. Getting through a whole album, though? That's the reserve of the post-rock connoisseur, and it's likely that 'Mémoire' will have its appeal limited to that particular crowd. How Comes The Constellations Shine recorded this series of tracks between 2006 and 2010, but the Portuguese band are only letting them see the light of day now, and this record is entirely instrumental.

The test begins right away. First track 'Overture' is ten-and-a-half minutes long and employs every trick in the post-rock manual. Like this and you'll love the album; if it leaves you cold then look elsewhere. 'Overture' is almost like a checklist, it's almost as if they're interviewing you for a job; if you can get through this gateway the album is yours. There's the very slow build up, the sudden noisy guitars and cymbal crashes that go on forever, the loud/quiet dynamic is used a fair bit, the pace and atmosphere change with the sudden introduction of a throbbing bass and eventually... a tune! The drums kick in, the guitars rev up, they aim for the sky and add some tempo. This is post-rock in a nutshell.

All the tracks which follow employ the same or similar techniques and the results will depend on personal taste, but here's a quick summary. More ambient pieces for people well versed in this type of thing: the Sigur Ros-ish 'Alaska', the incredibly gentle 'Black Hair' and the slow-burning 'Motherfucker'. Tracks that are likely to have a wider appeal: the experimental 'School Days', the dreampoppy shimmer of 'She's Blonde And She Says Uau A Lot' (?) with its epic ending, the quivering 'The Wind Will Carry Us' and the pleasant 'On Rascals' as well as finale 'Western Media Avenue'. The slow-burning 'Shattered Glass' sits somewhere in between, however if you skip the first half it's quite something. If this all seems a bit simplified then it's because it's very difficult to go into heavy detail about an album of this kind without writing an essay, however, an in-depth track by track guide from the band can be found here.




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