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We vs. Death - A Black House, A Coloured Home CD (album) cover

A BLACK HOUSE, A COLOURED HOME

We vs. Death

Post Rock/Math rock


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Neu!mann
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The distinctive music of this Dutch ensemble is Post Rock only by default. Yes, they have that chiming twin-guitar thing happening, but the addition of Paul Hoek's understated trumpet makes their sound fairly unique. And the more song-oriented bias of the band's latest (to date) EP separates it even further from the usual instrumental Post Rock dirges.

Five of the seven total songs here feature lyrics, sung in English (for cross-channel appeal in a small European market?) In truth the vocals are the weakest link in an otherwise taut chain, showing some of the same insecurities as (and being strongly reminiscent of) a PINK FLOYD performance, but thankfully without the misanthropic self-absorption of Roger Waters.

The music itself seems influenced more by New Wave and Post Punk trends than by anything resembling Progressive Rock. A brief introduction to 'The Sun" recalls the dual twelve-string guitar delicacy of early GENESIS, but that's stretching a comparison rather thin, and once the rhythm section kicks in we're a long way from any familiar Prog touchstones. A perfect case in point is the song "Mirage", one of only two entirely instrumental tracks and an obvious highlight of the EP, with its ominous FRIPP-like guitar theme giving way to an energetic foreground of pounding drums, all of it played with cinematic flair.

There's nothing too adventurous here, but it's solid stuff from start to finish, marred (or enhanced, depending on your preference) by the bare-bones, garage band production sound. The entire 37-minute EP, plus an album's worth of other, perhaps more representative tracks, can be had for free off the band's own web site: a generous nod to creative altruism usually reserved for music of far lesser quality than this.

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Posted Tuesday, July 27, 2010 | Review Permalink
colorofmoney91
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars We vs. Death have evolved very appropriately from their previous album. I actually enjoyed this one quite a bit for two reasons: vocals and stronger songwriting.

The vocals aren't the best, giving off kind of droney-zombie sound, but they accentuate the music greatly though used sparsely throughout. The lyrics are in English, so if that matters to you then you're in luck. Though there are still some tracks that sound very close to traditional ol' boring post-rock, those songs are made better with the inclusion of the vocals. The vocals really add the poetic feel that I think post-rock is already supposed to have but often lacks in the hands of others. Not to mention that the more post-rock songs are much gloomier and darker than anything done by other post-rock groups, and seems like they would be more in place on an Isis or Cult of Luna album, which is a good thing.

The songwriting and overall musicianship is much more convincing on this album than the last. The instruments often lock into almost dancy grooves, and the trumpet takes the front seat a bit more.

The whole album maintains a gloomy feel through its duration, and it leaves me in a mood despair after it finishes. This, however, is not a bad thing; it's just one of those kind of albums, you know? It sounds like an epic funeral. This is the music that could've been played when Albus Dumbledore died.

Given that I was only about half impressed with their previous album We Are Too Concerned/We Too Are Concerned, this album has me entirely impressed, even though as soon as I started playing the album I assumed that I would be let down. This might very well be the best post-rock I've ever heard.

I'd recommend this to fans of the band's earlier material, but looking for something better and more evolved. I'd also recommend this to fans of Algernon or Centenaire. It's also a free album available over the internet, so I suppose I'd suggest it to people who love free but quality goods.

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Posted Saturday, April 16, 2011 | Review Permalink
VanVanVan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars In the last couple of months I've been exploring a lot of music from rather unknown bands, including a lot of albums that are being distributed for free by the bands that make them. "A Black House, A Coloured Home" is one such album, courtesy of post-rock group "We vs. Death." Overall it's a decent album that shows a lot of potential, but it does have a lot of problems that prevent it from being a truly top-notch post-rock album.

"The things you did" begins the album with some distorted guitar sounds that should be all too familiar to anyone who listens to Post-Rock on a regular basis. However, the song doesn't stick with this motif for too long, as a fairly intricate guitar part picks up without much delay. Some horns add another unique element, and the track has a great ambience to it, but it doesn't inspire the kind of emotion that really excellent post-rock can, and so it comes off feeling a bit repetitive, and the briefly used vocals don't really help this.

"Hands" comes next, and makes greater use of the vocals. The problem that I have here is that to my ears it sounds texturally almost identical to "The things you did," and lacking a particularly strong melody, it just feels a bit redundant. I'm not a huge fan of the vocal style here either, in my opinion they stick out in a way that detracts from the otherwise sedate nature of this music.

"The sun" doesn't fall as much into this issue, adding a strong beat in the middle of the track that helps differentiate it from the rather wandering nature of the first two tracks. It also uses the vocals a bit better towards the end of the track, as they are mixed pretty far back and thus add to the atmosphere instead of detracting from it. "The sun" is easily the most dynamic track up to this point on the album, with some uptempo parts that help mix it up.

"Mirage" starts with a slow crescendo before some spooky-sounding guitar comes in. This gives the first part of the track a very haunting sound and provides an excellent base for some percussion and bass to develop. It's a chilling track that wisely gives its instruments room to breathe, which is a nice difference from the thick textures found in a lot of post-rock.

"Collection of stones" plays out rather similarly, but this time with vocals. Minimal, haunting arrangements are the name of the game here, and the somewhat raw sounding vocals are used to their best effect here, giving the track a desolate, lonely feel that works very well, especially as a follow-up to "Mirage."

"Black map" returns more to the style of the first couple songs, but after "Mirage" and "Collection of stones," it doesn't feel as redundant as the first two tracks did. It also, in my opinion, makes better use of melody, alternating motifs in a way that I find to be much more harmonically interesting then the more textural first two tracks. My only complaint here is that the ending feels a little abrupt.

"Golden medals" closes off the album on an unsurprisingly melancholic note, given the overall tone of the album thus far. Vocals return, and they're passable here but certainly nothing special. Overall, I think the track runs into the same problem as the first two, in sounding a little too much like "generic post-rock" to be truly great in its own right. There is a great guitar melody that's used towards the end of the song, though.

Overall, "A Black House, A Coloured Home" has a few really good moments that are unfortunately overshadowed by too many overly-homogeneous tracks. The horn parts, which could have been used to really differentiate the album from other post-rock releases, are in my opinion underused and therefore end up being ultimately forgettable. The album only really becomes excellent when it strips down its sound, and as such "Mirage" and "Collection of stones" are the highlights here. This album does show a good deal of potential and if the band can really refine and differentiate its sound I think that they will have some very good releases in the future.

2.5/5, rounded up

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Send comments to VanVanVan (BETA) | Report this review (#581371)
Posted Saturday, December 03, 2011 | Review Permalink

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