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Battlestations - In A Cold Embrace CD (album) cover

IN A COLD EMBRACE

Battlestations

 

Post Rock/Math rock

4.03 | 104 ratings

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zravkapt
Special Collaborator
Post Rock Team
4 stars This was an album I was skeptical of reviewing due to the fact that it was a new release getting a lot of 5 star reviews. That to me either means it's the greatest album ever or people are way too liberal with their 'masterpiece' ratings. In my experience, if I bought a highly rated new release on PA I ended up disappointed; I felt my money would have been better spent on crack cocaine. This second album from this Belgian group(the number and identity of the members apparently unknown) was a grower for me. This generally is not my favourite kind of 'post-rock' but it is very good for what it is. There are elements of ambient, dark ambient, shoegaze, space rock and electronic music...not typical post-rock but in reality there is no such thing.

To make comparisons, the music here sounds like a vocal-less Sigur Ros (but less optimistic sounding) mixed with GYBE (but less bleak and dark sounding). Sometimes it sounds like film soundtrack music, specifically a sci-fi or horror flick. Unlike the first album there is few vocal samples here (which the first one had lots of). Both albums were recorded at night (they most likely have day jobs) over a span of years. In A Cold Embrace opens with "Prologue: Nature morte / / You're not welcome here" where a looped something (keyboard?) lays the groundwork for instruments to join on top, mostly acoustic guitar and an electronic drum pattern. The loop goes away and everything turns more dreamy sounding. Some cinematic synth sequences replace the electronic drum pattern. Acoustic guitar dominates for awhile. Distorted guitar strums away in the background before what I assume is 'real' drums enter the picture.

"Comrade // The way we grieve" begins with soundscapes by a guitar I'm guessing before a very GYBE-like guitar figure appears and leads the other instruments into a GYBE style crescendo. Unlike GYBE, I don't think these guys use any strings or brass instruments. It sounds like electronic drums are used but it may just be the way the drumkit was mixed. Everything dies down and then we get some acoustic guitar over ambient soundscapes. A little bit of keyboards and some subdued, almost Fripp-like guitar playing join in. "Interlude: Time stands still" being the interlude is of course the shortest track. Some cinematic sounding synths, some of them looped, along with some fuzzed guitar playing almost random notes.

I like the beginning of "Breaking bad news // The faces we remember"-very post-rock sounding. Echoey and reverby guitars and keyboards(?) play single notes which form a long, stretched out melody. The background cinematic soundscapes become louder and more dominant as the acoustic guitars get looser and more improvised before returning to the single notes. All of a sudden everything gets more brighter as the music turns into some kind of electronic ambient. Sounds like altered choir sounds but that could just be a keyboard. Full band comes in and does an ambient groove. Just more single notes till the end.

"The semblance of fate // Epilogue: Citizen Creep // The end" opens with soundscapes and some slightly altered piano. The bass has a nice deep tone here. This part reminds me of something else but I can't quite put my finger on it. Just soundscapes and altered talking (to the point where you can't understand what's being said) for awhile. Very gently goes into some kind of Krautrock/post-punk/alternative vibe. I'm almost convinced they only use electronic percussion at this point. The music gets more post-y sounding. Some cinematic soundscapes and guitars before it goes cinematic dark ambient with more altered talking. A drone leads to echoed guitar chords and more soundscapes before ending the album.

I actually don't like the way the album ends too much; the first few times I listened to the album I thought: "why the silence? oh, it's over." Instead of just abruptly ending(another thing I don't like), everything just sort of fizzles out. Otherwise this is a very good effort. It has a great sound to it and the playing is good for what the music requires. Recommended to those who enjoy the more easy-going yet cinematic and atmospheric end of post-rock. My final verdict will be a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

zravkapt | 4/5 |

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