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WhyOceans - Inmost Dens Of Emilie CD (album) cover




Post Rock/Math rock

4.00 | 2 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A truly gorgeous second effort

WhyOceans have been around since 2005 and remain one of my favorite instrumental rock bands. Their second release, "Inmost Dens of Emilie," is described as "six stories from six scenes with the same origin," and was recorded primarily in Hong Kong.

While "post-rock" is often ignored by many prog rock fans for being too sleepy or one-dimensional, I've always went out of my way to notice and listen. This is a style of music that shoots down musical instant gratification, aiming instead for what I consider the more emotional receptors in our being. We cannot latch onto the vocal hook or hide in the instant thrills available with more direct rock and roll tools. Instead we are dealing with music that almost commands personal introspection. At the same time, while WhyOceans will also employ some of the narcotic dives and swells so often associated with some of the original post-rock bands, there is much more happening here in the subsets of pastoral beauty, technology, storytelling, and visuals. This is one "post-rock band" more than suitable for active, engaged listening. One should not consider it background music.

Not only is their music cinematic, but the band has mastered the art of video as well. Their video for "Transparent People" is as professional and, more importantly, as breathtaking as 90s European eye-candy films I used to enjoy. Vibrancy, confusion, youth, death, innocence, suffocation, wonder, beauty -- so many adjectives spring to mind while watching it. I'm not that big on video outside of live performance, but this one was completely enjoyable.

On to the album, I love the way piano, flute, and strings are incorporated into the album, often given their own space to shine unaccompanied by the rock instruments, including through the entire beautifully melancholic first track -- a stunning opener that draws you in. These moments, along with some ambient sounds like waves or birds, serve to give the album additional color and personality. When the full band finally arrives nearly halfway through the second number, even then they do so with a light touch at first. Then the layers start to unfold, each member building step by step with exemplary playing and attention to technique, especially noticeable in the some of the guitar warbling and drumming sustain/ring. But beyond the instrument choices and playing techniques, what matters is whether the songs connect with you emotionally and are interesting enough for repeated plays. Big slam dunk on both counts for this listener. The changes in the title track alone, from full, heavy rocking to suddenly veering to a hauntingly quiet melody on a piano are simply breathtaking. It's all so beautifully planned out, nothing sounds forced, but rather like carefully written stories.

So while in some respects, "Emilie" is not radically different from the original hallmarks of the genre they are considered, it is done with such command and beauty that it impresses from start to finish. Another reviewer commented that post-rock has been in descent recently, but that WhyOceans is one band bucking that trend because they are clearly rising. I couldn't agree more with the second part of that thought. WhyOceans have now fully realized their creative talents. "So we start our night" is what they say when they begin another evening of rehearsing, writing, and crafting their sound. This is a band that has been working very hard for many years, not only on this album but on their live sound and visual presentations as well. They have put in the long hours it takes to craft a release like this.

My suggestion is that folks forget about the post-rock label and instead, approach this recording as the fine piece of instrumental rock that it is.

Finnforest | 4/5 |


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