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Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place CD (album) cover


Explosions In The Sky


Post Rock/Math rock

3.91 | 209 ratings

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4 stars I think one of the things, and maybe THE thing that makes Explosions in the Sky stand out amongst a host of 'post-rock' bands is their complete reliance on nothing but guitar strings and drums for their sound. Sure, they are in the same genre as bands like Godspeed, Mogwai, Bark Psychosis, and even A Silver Mt. Zion. But those bands all include other percussion, keyboards, horns, and/or vocals. Explosions rely only on a couple of guitars, a bass, and minimal drum work. It's a seductive combination.

The only band I can think of that is so guitar-intensive is California Guitar Trio, and of course that's pretty much all they have. And they are really more virtuoso artsy rock anyway - the two bands could certainly not be mistaken for each other.

There's also the lack of reliance on The Climactic Crescendo ŽŠT, which with bands like Godspeed actually becomes rather predictable after a while. While I like a good building up to a thunderous finish as much as the next guy, it seems like there should be more to this style of music than just that. Ravel and Debussy pretty much perfected that sound a hundred years ago, and modern 'experimental' music doesn't really reinvent it as much as it simply copies the effect.

Explosions seem to be more about just laying down the notes for the sake of experiencing the journey. I like the way they offset the rather annoying ad nausea repetition of the album's title "Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place" on their album cover with the tiny message on the inside cover - "because you are listening". Nice touch.

This album kind of gets past you when you play it. I guess there are actually five tracks, but this seems to be a rather insignificant piece of information when you experience it. It seems more like a single, contiguous work, which is rather innovative. With Godspeed, each song seems to be all about getting, albeit in an interminably slow pace, to a huge climax and finish, just so the cycle can be repeated on the next song. With Explosions, at least on this album (it's the only thing of their's I've ever heard), each song is a complete and comprehensive work unto itself, not just a prelude to the last thirty seconds or so before they fadeout. This leaves the listener with the impression that this is a much longer, almost thematic body of work, rather than five separate thoughts.

"First Breath After Coma" leads off with a solitary guitar, which eventually is joined by a complementary one. I read somewhere that this is supposed to represent a heartbeat followed by the representation of breathing, or some such crap. I'm not bright enough to make that connection, but I do know what makes my ears happy, and this song does that.

On "The Only Moment We Were Alone", I guess there is maybe supposed to be a symbolic sound of butterflies in the stomach or some such thing. Whatever. Again, I just like the way the music flows along without any particular ambition to bring it to a close. While this is the longest song on the album, I always feel like "Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean" seems to go on forever. Maybe it's the fact that this one actually does build to something of a climax, but then manages to find the will to go on for a bit longer instead of collapsing to the bedroom floor and reaching for a cigarette.

"Memorial" begins with one of the most somber and desolate sounding sustained notes I have ever heard, followed by the second guitar with a short sequence that very much reminded me of some of the early chords in "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds". The first time I heard it I expected something totally depressing, or maybe just abstract, but this one actually manages to find it's legs with a rather powerful finish. Not really a building crescendo, more like a statement of fact. I guess this is their version of a tribute to some fallen soldier, or maybe just a guy who found the end of his rope a bit sooner than expected. Don't know, but this is the only song on the album that actually exudes a rather sad emotion.

"Your Hand in Mine" is the only song on the album I was a bit disappointed with, as it seemed more like a rehashing of "First Breath" with a bit of "The Only Moment" thrown in at a couple points in the middle. I didn't really get what this one was trying to express, but maybe I was just trying too hard.

This was my first foray into Explosions in the Sky. Like many people, I first knew of the band from the work they did for 'Friday Night Lights', which I thought was perfect mood music for that film. I was not disappointed and don't at all regret spending the money. In fact, I'm sure I'll buy "How Strange, Innocence" next. I don't suppose this is an essential album, but it sure is a good one, so four stars is a very appropriate rating.


ClemofNazareth | 4/5 |


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