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God Is An Astronaut - All Is Violent, All Is Bright CD (album) cover


God Is An Astronaut

Post Rock/Math rock

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars God is an Astronaut is a three man army that make "heavenly" instrumental post-rock witch consists of the usual guitar/ bass/ drums sound, but adding to it synth effects to their sound and I mean a lot of synth effects witch is the main attraction in their sound.

Their songs are very catchy and rather short (only two song pass the 5 minute mark) making their sound accessible and easy to digest for normal mainstream listeners and prog heads without the need of extra patience most bands of the genre require. Their sound is energetic and very melodic with the center of attention being shared with the guitar or the piano. Thanks to the synth effects and lovely piano work they make you feel like you're flying above the clouds and enjoying the view and feeling the breeze, but then all of the beauty stops and the energy in their sound start to show off with bombastic playing by the members of the band will still having that melodic edge and that's when you hit the ground hard, but instead of feeling painful it's really fun and enjoyable and you just want to do it again. Not all of the songs in the album follow the crescendo formula Godspeed uses and that's a good thing. Highlights of the album are "All is Violent, all is Bright" (great and fierce drumming near the end), the beautiful "Forever Lost" and the dynamic "Suicide by Star". The rest of the song follow closely behind this ones. So the album has a nice balance and there aren't bad songs.

This is a very accessible album and have a mainstream feel to it, but don't let that keep you from enjoying them. The drawback of the album is that the magic wears off after repeated listening. The effects won't sound as ear blowing as the first times and that's when the album settles. I don't think that it would be an excellent addition to any prog collection, but it is an excellent addition to any post-rock collection. So if you're into the genre or just starting out, go and get All is Violent, all is Bright. It'll win your heart from the first listen.

Report this review (#99834)
Posted Tuesday, November 21, 2006 | Review Permalink
Tristan Mulders
4 stars God is an Astronaut - All is violent, all is bright

It was only fairly recent that I discovered this album. I read a lot of positive comments on them and decided to check upon them as soon as possible. This eventually meant that I obtained a copy of their 2005 studio album 'All is Violent, All is Bright', which is what this review will be all about.

This 48 minutes lasting, 10 tracks comprising album is a full-blown instrumental and all the songs included here are epic soundscapes, which on occasions share resemblances with Sigur Rňs and Godspeed! You black Emperor, whereas on other moments they distinctly remind me of the epic space rockers of British bands Oceansize and Amplifier.

If this album resembles their typical sound, then I cannot wait to get my hands on the other items included in their discography. Breathy synthesizers accompany the melodic guitar segments and the drummer creates a great foundation for the others to work on freely.

The link to Sigur Rňs wasn't made only because the compositions remind me of some of their work, but also because the vocals here are, just like those of Sigur Rňs vocalist Jónsi Birgission's, used as an important aspect of the composition. they are in fact an instrument for the band to use!

I find that time flies by when I listen to this album, the various melodies are not too complicated, for prog rock standards that is, but the overall combination of the various instruments, the spacey atmosphere, the variation in melodies, chords, pace etc. just make me really appreciate this album. What impressed me a lot was the use of drum computers on a couple of tracks, without losing the epic sound that they manage to create song upon song upon song. I cannot wait to replay the album when the closing track When everything dies has ended, indicating that the last 48 minutes, yet again, flew by without realising it was that long a time.

In short: you like heavy distorted walls of sound? You like spacey, breathy keyboards, you like intensive but laidback drumming? You like melodic as well as distorted guitars? --> Listen to this!

Report this review (#108241)
Posted Sunday, January 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars 5 stars. In the Experimental/Post Rock genre these guys are masters.

Explosions in the Sky is another excellent band working the same general area but their overall sound is less dynamic, more reserved and contemplative than God is an Astronaut's.

Now, to the album.

I like this album better than their first, "The End of the Beginning". Though there really isn't that noticeable of a difference between them, "All is Violent, All is Bright" just seems to have a more cohesive and accomplished feel.

The music is extremely lyrical but also extremely dynamic. It holds my attention effortlessly.

The vocals do not consist of words but sung feelings which can be equally, if not more, evocative.

There is no fat in this album. Each composition is well conceived, arranged and played. The sound/production is excellent as well.

Personal favorites are "Fire Flies and Empty Skies", "A Deafening Distance" and "Remembrance Day".

Report this review (#109292)
Posted Monday, January 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars God is an astronaut is, for me, one of the most innovative and gifted bands. I don't know what it is exactly that make them stand out over the huge pile of generic, repetitive and boring post rock.

The album opens with Fragile, a beautiful song which draws you in completely with it's stunning atmosphere that builds up slowly and skilfully, until it blows up to a massive ending. I guess that right there is what makes GIaA so much better than other bands in this genre. The atmosphere, which is basically what a Post Rock song usually relies upon, is done here stunningly, and that's what makes the difference.

Anyway, the next song is named after the title of the album. Indeed a fine peace of music. Beautiful melody that's carried nicely throughout the track.

Other noted tracks on the album are: Forever Lost, sad and gloomy and very very touching. Again, the atmosphere and song structure are flawless. Remembrance day is another track that you should check out.

All in all GiaA is almost the only post rock band that i can listen to over and over again without getting bored. They just do it better then the rest of 'em.

Highly recommended!

Report this review (#140700)
Posted Wednesday, September 26, 2007 | Review Permalink
Fight Club
4 stars God is an Astronaut is a three-piece instrumental post-rock band reminiscent of artists such as Explosions in the Sky and Mono. The songs build up from tranquil ambiance to blistering intensity throughout the whole album. It's quite a beautiful piece of music I have to say and I've been addicted to it for about a week or two now. Everything is very catchy, but also has a lot of feeling. If you listen to Explosions in the Sky, whose music is also featured in Friday Night Lights, you'll know what I'm talking about.

For anyone not familiar with their sound, imagine taking some epic electronic movie soundtrack or something and adding some tasty guitar with lots of reverb. The music here is never complex, and sticks to just making some nice melodies. So if you want to relax and enjoy some nice thinking music, try this.

Report this review (#142443)
Posted Saturday, October 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars This Irish trio make some of the most beautiful Post-Rock music I have ever heard. Melodic soundscapes with synths washing over them constantly. The sound doesn't slowly build like many Post-Rock bands, rather the build ups happen quickly, usually in a couple of minutes. There isn't a bad song on this album.

"Fragile" builds quickly although it reaches another level after 2 1/2 minutes and calms down as it ends. "All Is Violent, All Is Bright" is another song that builds fairly fast. The drums are really active after 3 minutes as the sound again reaches another level. "Forever Lost" is one of my favourites. Just a beautiful sounding song with piano and synths leading the way. "Fire Flies And Empty Skies" opens with guitar as drums come pounding in. A fuller sound arrives before a minute before the song relaxes again. This contrast of soft and loud continues. "A Deafening Distance" is another one I like a lot. The first 2 1/2 minutes are very pleasant sounding and then it becomes much more powerful.

"Infinite Horizons" is another gorgeous song with the atmospheric guitar and synths. "Suicide By Star" features some upfront drumming as the sound becomes full 3 minutes in. It gets intense a minute later. "Remembrance Day" opens with what sounds like the wind as piano comes in. Synths 1 1/2 minutes in followed by drums, then a full sound 3 minutes in. "Dust And Echoes" is another favourite. Guitar, synths and drums as the song builds. It calms down a minute later to end it. "When Everything Dies" opens with reserved piano melodies and synths. More energy and sound before 3 minutes. Drums and piano lead the way a minute later.

A very enjoyable and positive experience. Not complex by any means, just great music that you can relax to.

Report this review (#160087)
Posted Monday, January 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars Forever lost...

How can one song be so simple, but at the same time be so emotive, beautiful, dark, happy, amazing, and incredible at the same time? If you want to check out this album, get it for just this song, this is the suppers ready for electronic post rock, IT'S THAT GOOD!

Anyways, on to my unbiased review, I really want to give this album three stars, but I'm having too much trouble doing that. Though some of the songs are kind of samey, and towards the end there is a bit of monotony, really this is a friggin' solid album. Filled with memorable melodies, riffs, beats, and everything else post rawk is supposed to be about, though I wont go far enough o say it's a masterpiece.

The based AROUND the guitar, not based on the guitar! The guitar will usually start a nice arpeggio, or chord progression, than the keyboards, and eerie My Bloody valentine-ish vocals will come in, followed by acoustic drums making a very solid electronic beat. These, unlike most post rock, go on through a more... erm... standardized song structure, where the songs will go Loud, soft, Loud, BRIDGE, Loud, Soft. I know scary, but I guess that's why they are among one of the most commercially successful post bands out there (next to Explosions in the sky, and Sigur ros) even with a hit from the album, the opener Fragile, which ironically does follow a more standard post rock song structure, with the huge ending climax.

This album is a great album for the people who have trouble with the more inaccessible greats such as Godspeed You! Black emperor, or some of the weirder experimental stuff like Tortoise. This is very easy listening catchy post rock, plain and simple, and a great starter for anyone into the genre. The music is slow and emotional, but isn't long, and drawn out, or overly experimental. At the same time though, I can understand why some super post rock fanboys wouldn't like theses guys for that, or why some hard core proggers would bash the group for these trends. Well, I guess you can put me in both of these factions, and I love the music, therefore I recommend anyone who's not afraid of simplicity, electronic, or instrumental music a go at this amazing collection of music. Four stars for God is an Astronauts All is violent, all is bright.

Report this review (#173874)
Posted Friday, June 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
The T
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've never seen an album get so similar ratings by all members: all of them have given this record 4 stars. And, for once, I can't help to absolutely agree.

GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT has really surprised me. It's no secret that post-rock has serious problems with me: its too-long songs which consist of mostly one theme altered dynamically over time with crescendos that almost invariably end in a huge climax, all of this played in the same tempo, have never been my thing. I found a post-rock record I like a few months ago, and now I can say I've found another that even beats that one and becomes my favorite in this genre.

The great thing about "All is Violent, All is Bright" is that it plays to the strengths of the genre and not to the weaknesses (in my opinion of course). The songs (well, tracks, as none of them are actually sung) are very short, averaging about 4 and a half minutes each. In that short amount of time, it's much easier to accept that the idea of just one melody/theme being played repeatedly is enough to create a song. It helps and a lot that the melodies/themes that GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT comes up with are of the utmost beauty.

Another strong point of this record are the textures, the harmonies that can be found under the main melodic discourse. It has always been one of the good things about this genre, and in this recording the idea gets a perfect treatment. Layer after layer of guitars create a wonderful sonic world, populated by tons of colors that help magic emerge.

The tempos, also, are varied and never get repetitive. Next to slow tracks we have faster ones. The same can be said about the mood of the album. Such an atmospheric record as this never gets depressing, as many other albums in this genre do.

In general, "All is Violent, All is Bright" never sounds like it's trying too hard to be "modern" or "unique". The music, played with great skill by the excellent performers, is just what it needs to be. I thought of giving this album a perfect rating but I think that a little more thematic-melodic variation within tracks would have been welcome. Think of this rating as a 4.49.

Excellent record. One of the most atmospheric and magical I've heard in a long time.

Report this review (#176116)
Posted Friday, July 4, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars 4.5 stars really. This is an excellent post-rock album. It is not experimental or groundbreaking. There are no 20 minute epics here. The album contains shorter dynamic tracks. It reminds me of Explosions in the Sky except that GIAA uses more keyboards and less guitars than EITS. The drums sound like they may be from a drum machine at times, but they go well with the music. It is a melodic and mellow and rather hypnotic a;bum, which in this case is a good thing! I am tempted to go to five stars but just can't do it. Highly recommended to all Post-Rock fans.
Report this review (#180801)
Posted Monday, August 25, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars God Is an Astronaut are an instrumental three piece hailing from the Glen of the Downs, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. They formed in 2002 and released their debut album The End of the Beginning (2002) on their own Revive Records label. Their two music videos for PlayThe End of the Beginning and PlayFrom Dust to the Beyond, received airplay on MTV UK and on other MTV European networks.

All Is Violent, All Is Bright (2005) is the band's second album. The album features their build ups from serene ambience to searing intensity and is a closer representation of their live sound. The single PlayFragile from the album has also received plays on MTV2 UK's 120 minute show and MTV's "The Comedown" show.

God Is an Astronaut released an EP called A Moment Of Stillness in 2006.

The rating for me is 4.9

Report this review (#183865)
Posted Saturday, September 27, 2008 | Review Permalink
5 stars God is an Astronaut are not a post-rock band in the vein of Explosions in the Sky or Godspeed You! Black Emperors. The latter have generally quite long tracks and no discernible tune of riff. That doesn't make them bad.

God is an Astronaut is a much more straightforward form of instrumental rock with shorter songs seldom going far beyond 5 minutes. There is a discernible theme or melody in each track, something which many post-rock bands intentionally avoid doing. They're not reinventing the wheel, but what they do they do very well. Definitely one of the more mainstream-sounding post-rock bands out there, but no worse off because of it.

Of all the post-rock albums I've listened to (a few), this one stands out as truly grabbing me after the first listen. Some of the tracks are quieter (such as Forever Lost), some are louder (such as my personal favourite, Remembrance Day), but they are all very well-written, well-performed tracks. Each track really shines.

Some very beautiful, relaxing, inspiring music. At the moment this is my favourite post-rock album. A highly accessible start to post-rock for the uninitiated, and highly recommended for the anyone else.

Report this review (#210113)
Posted Saturday, April 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars If Canada is the most notorious country in indie-post rockin instru bands, Ireland seems to have fund its own figure under the name God is an astronaut. All is Violent, All is Bright provides basic pop orientated pieces with some slow moving textures and delicate-subjective melodies into it. The atmospheres are supposed to be moody, plaintive and serene. However the result is rather cheap and amateurish, including common rules and pop-ish conventions. I must admit that those superficial sides are almost constant in the so called post (math) rock scene: bands are surfing on intimate, sleepy and intropective sound territories but they always fail to reach sonic-cinematic landscapes, probably because this music is functional and made by teenagers for teenagers. This is radio friendly music specialised in soporific reveries. The accent is put on easy-listening emotional rockin sequences. All is Violent, All is Bright is the perfect combination between pop-ambient and peaceful-generical background music for teenages' road movies. If you feel romantic, this is the album to play in order to seduce your teenage girl. God is an astronaut gives you the illusion to fly away but it remains a sterile escaping without comunion with anything that are beyond our understanding. Nevertheless a few marginal-post rock combos deserve a listen (Deaf Center, Machinefabriek, Jasper TX's a darkness. If I'm not wrong none of them is mentionned in the archives).
Report this review (#213752)
Posted Monday, May 4, 2009 | Review Permalink
Heavy Prog Team
4 stars Though I am a relatively new- and late-comer to the "Post Rock/Math Rock" and seemingly related "Experimental/Post Metal" Progressive Rock sub-genres, I am fascinated and enjoying these two areas immensely. IMO, here is where "progress" is truly being made in music--where boundaries are being challenged, the envelope being pushed. The work of Sigur Rós and Toby Driver alone lead the way in what I call the groundbreaking, mind-opening progress happening in music recently. The 60s saw The Beatles, Lou Reed, and King Crimson pushing the envelope. The 70s had Robert Fripp, Brian Eno, and Christian Vander exploring untested territories. The 80s saw the compositions and productions of the likes of David Byrne, Mickey Hart, Paul Simon and Peter Gabriel and others trying to bring attention to and appreciation for musics, instruments and musicians of the world. (The 80s also saw the advent of the computer age with things like 'midi,' 'sequencing,' 'sampling' and the Fairlight exerting considerable influence, while on the quiet artists like David Sylvian and Robert Fripp continued to test sound in the forms and structures that we call 'music.') In the 90s we saw Mark Hollis, Sigur Rós, and Radiohead pushing boundaries. Which brings us to the most recent decade, the first of the 21st Century, in which we were witnesses to the innovation, courage, and artistry of Toby Driver (an asterisk of mention to the members of Animal Collective.) While my diatribe admittedly reflects an Anglo-American-centricity, I hope you readers will accept the fact that, for good or not, most of the music made publicly accessible through commerce has been able to rise to the public eye (and ear) through Anglo-American corporate endorsement. With all of this in mind, my review of God Is An Astronaut's All Is Violent, All Is Bright constitute's my first in this sub-genre. The reason being, it is the first "Post Rock/Math Rock" album that I have heard that I absolutely love start to finish, every song in the collection. No album from Sigur Rós, Red Sparowes, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Russian Circles, Mogwai, Mono, Don Caballero, 65Daysof Static, Do Make Say Think, or Explosions in the Sky has captivated me so well as All Is Violent, All Is Bright. ULVER's Shadows of the Sun is the only one yet I've heard that I like more, but it is a very different experience from the Post Rock/Math Rock experience I receive from the others mentioned. I would not even place Shadows of the Sun in this category, it is so different. Some Post Rock/Math Rock album/artists are a bit too harsh/too metallic for me (Russian Circles, Godspeed come to mind), some too repetitive or formulaic in their patterns and structures (Mono, Explosions, even, at times, Sigur Ros). A few are less consistent with the high standard/quality (Mogwai, Do Make Say Think, and 65Days). For some reason I prefer Red Sparowes (especially "Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Red Sun"), much of Sigur Rós (Agćtis Byrjun, Takk, and ( ) [untitled]), and this God Is An Astronaut album. What I like so much about this album is its diversity. While Post Rock/Math Rock does seem to have its formulaic structures, the songs on this album each have their own identities, each have disparate styles and 'influences.' Plus, I have to admit, I rather like their relative brevity. The tendency within this subgenre is to go a bit long. Once or twice an album is great, but every song eight to twelve minutes? No thank you. Unfortunately, I just don't have time to listen to songs like that all day. I also quite enjoy GIAA's use of vocals. Like a fifth instrument--another keyboard or a violin or something.

1. "Fragile" (4:34) is the album's introductory piece that reminds me very much of an older SIGUR RÓS song. Nice slow beat, building slowly, with a very SIGUR RÓS-like use of voices, even through the requisite slam of drums, cymbols, bass and synths which arrives at the 2:40 mark and then disengages a minute later for a very slow and peaceful fade. Short, sweet, and to the point.

2. "All Is Violent, All Is Bright" (4:13) is right out of a CURE playbook: rolling bass, guitar effects, background keyboard effects, same drums, Cure cords and definitely a Cure pace. Beautiful song. Awesome finale beginning at the 3:15 mark. Go crazy, Robert! I mean, Kinsella brothers! This one could've bee a little longer. (8/10)

3. "Forever Lost" (6:20) is BUDD/ENO meets MASSIVE ATTACK. Great soundtrack music. Great atmospheric piano and synths. Typical build and climax. (8/10)

4. "Fire Flies and Empty Skies" (3:55) begins with more fast-tempo CURE-ish bass and guitar until the drums enter followed by the song's melody played on sliding up and down a guitar's fretboard. Something is so pleasantly familiar about this song and its melodies. The isolated distorted bass beginning at 3:15 mark and flowing to the end as the song's outro section is a great touch. Some OCEANSIZE feel here, too. (9/10)

5. "A Deafening Distance" (3:48) slows the pace down until the drums and guitar power chords double time at the 2:40 mark. Great synth melody eeking its presence out from behind the rhythm section. (7/10)

6. "Infinite Horizons" (2:27) slows it down to an almost ambient pace with a very ROBIN GUTHRIE-like feel and sound. Nice. (7/10)

7. "Suicide by Star" (4:39) begins like an ominous yet intriguing soundtrack song. A Jason Bourne theme or something. Builds with the drums and lead guitar moving up to the foreground at the 1:30 mark. Great song, great feel, my favorite song on the album. Reminds me of U2's early experimental work with BRIAN ENO and DANIEL LANOIS--like "Boomerang" and others from the "Unforgettable Fire" period. Awesome. I love the end/climax where the bass drum is pumping frenetically while the ride cymbol paces calmly along at the same slow pace with which it started. (9/10)

8. "Remembrance Day" begins with quite a different feel than the rest of the album--like a CHROMA KEY piece--with piano, bass keyboards and very treated/synthesized vocals. Then at the 1:48 mark the woofer-low synthetic bass, drums, and sliding guitar sounds enter. Wow! Space has never felt so cool! Then the 2:48 mark sees the song take a different turn into a more upbeat, uptempo, up-power level with a new melody line introduce on synths(?). The song finally decays back to the echoed piano. Cool and unusual! (9/10)

9. "Dust and Echoes" (4:13) again begins with such a different feel. Kind of pop-mainstream with weird synth washes flowing, floating behind the rhythm section. If you've ever heard the great music of PERPLEXA and/or WEST INDIAN GIRL, this has that same awesome, upbeat psychedelic feel. The song builds by the 2:40 point, vocals again serving a very cool and important role, before interestingly decaying early into an unusually long (for this genre) fadeaway. Great song. Another fave. (9/10)

10. "When Everything Dies" is the album's only real long song (10:01). Beginning with another HAROLD BUDD-treated by BRIAN EMO piano, the main difference is the eerie and unsettling presence of a synth bass. A shift occurs at the 3:00 mark into a more pounding, speedy version of the intro piano them joined by a very treated, almost electronic MASSIVE ATTACK-like drum riff. Some FRIPP-like guitar arpeggios join at the 4:25 mark as the background rhythmists build the intensity of their chords until 5:20 everybody drops out save the drums, bass and synth-wash, which then also drop out and fade until from 5:55 to 7:30 we are left without sound! Everything has apparently died! The first sounds to reenter our aural atmosphere are synthesized waves on a beach sound followed by a computer-robot sounding synth riff floating around the L-R aural screen. By 9:00 a piano, very distant drum beat, and new synth make their presences known before finally all fading away in the end. Weird, eerie and interesting. Not as heavy as ULVER's Shadows of the Sun LP and message, but interesting. (7/10)

11. "Disturbance" (3:44) is another ENO-BUDD sounding piece--as if from the Apollo album, or from the 2001: A Space Odyssey soundtrack--definitely presents as if we are in space or on a space journey. More of a concept finisher than a song with it's own interesting presence. (6/10)

Great album; my favorite yet from this subgenre. 9 out of 10 becoming 5 stars for the sake of it's high consistency and for being "the standard" by which I will measure other albums from this sub-genre.

P.S. It's now been over five years since I first heard and review this album. In that time I have gotten to know the Post Rock/Math Rock subgenre pretty well. I have long been toying with the idea of downgrading this album from my former "masterpiece" acclaim because I find it hard to issue five star "masterpiece" status to anything in this subgenre. It is just too beaten down, too overdone and over-explored. The music just becomes so overlapping and redundant--even the (few) albums that use vocals prominently (e.g. Slint, Bark Psychosis, Sigur Rós, Oceansize, Ulver, Matryoshka, Toe, Autumn Chorus, Rhys Marsh, Midas Falls, Swans) often fall into patterns of almost nauseating predictability and repetitiousness. I've heard a few bands that "surprise" me and lure me into their magic for a while. But all too soon it seems I am running for something else, something more . . . alive!

Report this review (#277034)
Posted Friday, April 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is the first album I listened to by God is An Astronaut, and I think I won't dig any deeper in their discography. The whole album (with the exception of the title track) sounds like they are trying to be very deep, but they are just using some spacey sounds and some repetitive (though sometimes nice) riffs. Of course it has all a nice sound, but if you don't strictly use it as a soundtrack you will just find if very boring. If you like this kind of post-rock give it a try, but it really isn't my cup of tea.
Report this review (#546773)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars God Is an Astronaut's All Is Violent, All Is Bright combines the stark and emotionally devastated soundscapes of Godspeed You Black Emperor or Mogwai with delicate piano work reminiscent of Sigur Ros to create a post-rock sound which is very much rooted in what by 2005 had become fairly well-established traditions of the subgenre - but though their post-rock approach is slightly cliched, they pull it off so well that I can't bring myself to hold it against them. And truth be told, the band find enough new twists to add to the old formula that I think they get away with using it, by the skin of their teeth - it's an entertaining enough album that if you dug the mid-2000s post-rock boom you probably won't find it dull, but it's not going to blow your mind or knock any of your post-rock idols off their pedestals.
Report this review (#679714)
Posted Friday, March 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars 10 Years On: God is an Astronaut's All Is Violent, All is Bright

I completely and utterly understand why the entire world of post-rock hates God is an Astronaut. Even more than Explosions in the Sky, who simply packaged down Godspeed You! Black Emperor into predictable burst of constant crescendo, God is an Astronaut dare to take post- rock, and instrumental rock in general, to riskily accessible levels. I can see purists getting mad whenever some uneducated music fan says 'I normally don't like music without words, but I really like God is an Astronaut', because their music is so safe, and trying so hard to be as accessible as instrumental music can physically be, as if they're trying to push post-rock into the radio market. But above all of my intellectual knowledge that these guys are watering down a genre known to be epic, inaccessible and pretentiously grandiose into bite-size segments for the mass market, I still actually enjoy them, even if only a little bit.

Although they would shift their sound a bit in the future, in both good ways and bad, towards ambient, electronic, and shoegaze sounds, All Is Violent, All Is Bright remains the definitive God is an Astronaut album, in terms of their skills at condensing post-rock into memorable, tight, and melodically dressed four-to-six minute jams. The ambient and the electronic parts are here (not really any shoegaze until later), but they take a back seat to the sounds of streamlined, ultra- melodic third wave post-rock. And even then, I regularly feel the ambience and electronics are some of the weaker elements here, 'Forever Lost', despite its wonderfully uplifting melody line, utilises way too many casio synthesisers to make its ambience, sounding straight out of a 14- year-old's 'ambient' bedroom project. Later on in their career, the electronic elements would become a positive side to their music, but on this album, let's just say they're pretty poor. I'm particularly not a fan of when the drums come in and completely ruin the mood of 'When Everything Dies'

But basically, when you throw out the fact that this has none of the raw emotion of Godspeed or the innovative sounds of early post-rock, you can really start to appreciate it as one of the most memorable and accessible takes on instrumental rock music to date, without relying heavily on intense crescendos. Similar to many pop artists, these songs are short, have distinct repetitions, and focus heavily on memorable melodies, usually played on guitar, although piano features regularly, and the opening track even has some Sigur R's-esque distant vocals carrying its lead hook.

And then there are the crescendocore tracks. If you can give points to God is an Astronaut for anything else on this record, it's that they didn't go full-on explosion in every single track, like some of their imitators do. 'Suicide by Star' has an absolutely gripping piece of explosion-core, bringing in the tremolo guitars in mounds and ramping up the intensity to true post-rock levels, although its brief length does make it a bit of an anti-climax.

But what this album, and this band in general, is missing from its formula is the vastness of post- rock. Without huge tracks and monolithic soundscapes, these guys sound a bit too weak underneath their cousins, because even though they interject ambient passages into the structures, and many of the songs have a slower and more laid-back mood, with their formula of short and cheery, God is an Astronaut miss out on so much depth in songwriting. It's not as if they need 20-minute tracks to be good, but oftentimes this album feels like a stack of songs, one after another, that are just the same thing played in a different key with varying degrees of loudness. I wouldn't go as far to call it derivative - these guys certainly have their own sound, it's just that it's not a sound that lasts all too long, even within an album. This could have been cut to a 5-song EP (doesn't matter which ones, just pick a few) and it would have the same effect.

Repeat listens don't do this good either, I'm afraid. I liked every song on this when i first heard it, and now several absolutely drive me up the wall, mostly because of how simple the melodies are, again in a similar way to vapid pop music. The melody in 'Fire Flies and Empty Skies', it just feels so lazy and basic, and obviously without the crescendocore of Explosions in the Sky, they haven't even got the 'emotion' to back it up. And in its follow-up, 'A Deafening Distance", we get one melody repeating ad nauseam, with an equally dull drum beat underneath, but that song fortunately saves itself by giving it a bit of punch with the final few rounds. Many of these songs feel so incredibly underdeveloped, and I don't mean that they are too short, I mean that some songs are entirely based around a very simple idea, and four minutes of one melody does wear thin after a few listens.

This is a good album. It's good background music, I feel - not emotional enough to be distracting, but captivating enough to not feel bored. They certainly have a knack for memorable melodies without the need of a vocalist, which is something that is vital in an instrumental band, but without the enormity and emotional power that a band like Godspeed has, the music becomes a bit nondescript, a bit pedestrian. And in combination with many of the songs being a bit lazily written An enjoyable record, I feel. Certainly far from a classic, and it certainly deserves a lot of the flack it takes for being a bit dull and song-centric, but I do enjoy it a little bit. Just don't play it more than a couple of times, or it will start to dig into you.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

Report this review (#1361969)
Posted Wednesday, February 4, 2015 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars After listening to this album several times, my impression of God is an Astronaut is a lite Post Rock band. Their brand of post rock is to try to make it easy for people to listen to. Personally, I don't think post rock was meant to be accessible, yet they try their hardest to make it so. Except for some wordless vocals in "Fragile", all of the songs on this album are instrumentals, so they check the first box on their post rock formula. Songs are based on the usual post rock formula, that of crescendos built off of a basic melody line.

I can't really compare this record to anything by Godspeed You! Black Emperor, because there is so much more depth in anything that GY!BE has done. The shortness of the tracks here makes certain that there are no epics on the album, just mostly basic instrumentals that feel like they could be epic if they were developed better. Sure, Mogwai and other post rock bands have recorded short songs, but many times, those songs flow into each other, where on this album, every song is it's own entity and none of them seem to have anything to do with each other, just like pop songs on a popular album. Post rock doesn't have to be all lengthy songs, they just have to have more depth to them.

The rhythms on each song pretty much hold a constant beat on each individual song, This is also to help the music be more pop- like. Doing this would make you think that each track must have it's own personality, but they really don't. What you end up getting here are some songs that might be mildly interesting, but they also tend to not have anything memorable about them. The titles don't seem to support anything in the individual tracks. For example, "Suicide By Star" could just have easily been called "Climbing a Broken Ladder and Jumping Into a Small Metal Bucket" and still wouldn't have been any different. It's like they recorded the music and decided to label it something that sounded like it might be post rock-ish.

So, it is pleasant in it's own way, but it really isn't anything that would get you interested in investigating their other albums. I think the best way to describe this is Post Rock Lite. It just seems to lack emotion and depth to me and it devoid of much feeling. It doesn't take a lot of brain cells to listen to it, but it doesn't seem to generate a lot of interest for me either. I will give it a low 3 star rating because the production is good, and listening to one track now and then is okay, but I can't seem to garner much interest in it all together as a package, it just gets dull too fast.

Report this review (#1941575)
Posted Wednesday, June 27, 2018 | Review Permalink

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