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And So I Watch You From Afar - Gangs CD (album) cover

GANGS

And So I Watch You From Afar

Post Rock/Math rock


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5 stars Head banging to the max! This is my first experience listening to this band. I stumbled across this album and a performance of the album on You Tube. The energy and intensity are unmatched by most bands today. They play with the same intensity as Lightning Bolt and Hella. Though this album isn't avant-noise like the aforementioned bands. This music is very structured. The musicians are high caliber and play with extreme precision.

7 billion People All Alive At Once start you with a Eastern European boat ride. Then they rip you off the edge of the boat send you spiraling down towards the bottom of the sea. Just as you breathe your last breath, just before you drown, you see the light. You hold on just long enough to swim towards the light. The light grabs you and takes you to the sky. You fly around the planet and observe how small we really are. As you come to this wisdom you notice your body dematerializing into the light. Your energy begins to waltz with Mother Earth.

Every song on this album is gold. Straight money. I don't have time to write a more detailed review because I'm too busy listening to this album. I recommend this to everyone including my Abuelita. Five stars for a stellar album. This is one of the best albums in its class. Period.

Report this review (#455299)
Posted Tuesday, May 31, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars At the time this review is being written, it's one of the 2011's best albums. And So I Watch You From Afar are a great mix of post rock, math rock, blended with metal. Despite their aggressiveness, they're kind of bouncy and fun a lot of the time. The instruments REALLY know how to work off of each other to create a really exhilarating experience. A lot of mixing and post production went into this album. It feels like the instruments have been mixed together PERFECTLY. The drums often feel like they're being smashed really hard, and they're DRIVING the music forward. The two guitarists really know what they're doing. One can be playing some really metal stuff while the other plays a badass mathy riff, and it just sounds so GOOD to me. It kind of makes me want to drink energy drinks and headbang late into the night. It really makes you feel aggressive in an awesome and fun way. Please, do yourself a favour and GET THIS ALBUM. It's simply amazing.
Report this review (#477742)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars At first, when my friend sent me a link to the first song off this album, I thought the band name was the song name because of how long it was. When I realised that suddenly many more "songs" are named this way, I realised that I had been fooled by the complex names of Post and Math Rock bands, once again. ASIWYFA is one of those bands that have such a sound that can only be confused with only very few bands, and also very rarely, and I think it really adds to their character. Their metallic parts on post-ish songs and unisono yells on mathy riffs are so unique that once you hear them once you can't confuse them with anything else.

The album opens with the uniquely named BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION. After I realised that this was not the band name, I immediately realised the beauty of this name. It may seem a bit pretentious at first but sometimes, we all feel like beautiful master champions of the universe, and I must say musically this song is similar. Opening with a few blasting multi guitar 10-noted chords and some massive yells reminiscent of the mighty Japandroids (the only band that sounds similar to these folks). They then go into a riffy quiet part to build up to the drum and bass entrance (not to be confused with the same genre which sounds nothing alike). The first riff comes back and is fused with the latter to create some sort of epic pre-reprise, and then before we even notice, they go back into the same latter riff, again, quiet. Another drum entrance and this sounds just a tad bit like a new Giraffes? Giraffes! song but still maintains a unique sound. Jonathan Adger's pumping bass sound fills the air as they enter yet another drum and bass breakdown. The guitars maintain a post-rock floaty feel but drummer Chris Wee adds the powerful metal feel. Around 3 minutes in, the song enters a very soft post-rock-ish feel, which sounds like Sigur Ros meets Explosions in the Sky. These guys aren't as unique as Battles which can not be compared to anything, but still maintain a cool sound. They build up to a climax as the drums play louder and louder and the guitars go higher higher, and higher. Guitarists Tony and Rory play octave unisono and raise the mood of the previously recorded post-rock riff with their massive reverbs. One more, final climax, before they reach the beautiful universely composed, master championly played ending.

Next song is the semi-eponimously titled Gang (starting never stopping). It starts with a low volumed guitar line before blasting into the whole band playing in insane time signatures, constantly changing, and almost impossible to understand. If there was ever a song for running from loan sharks, this is it. They return to their first riff and then go into a very very short riff that sounds very early prog, before going into an insane 11/4 riff with a very familiar chord sequence played in a unique fill. The style of ASIWYFA's short breaks is so amazing that I cannot find ways to describe it. Then, mysteriously, the drums dissappear for a few rounds before magically reappearing along with a few more guitars to help dirty up the already dirty track. And of course, no prog song is complete without a reprise, so they go back to the main riff with some sort of insane drum solo by Chris which then breaks down into a beautiful one minute soft post rock piece.

Search:Party:Animal is one of the more hardcore pieces of the album. Personally, I find metal a bit hard to enjoy, so this is a weaker track for me, although the band plays so beautifully it is hard to not enjoy. Again, the use their famous breaking style to make the song sound much more epic when it returns from the break a second later. Rory and Tony loop themselves over and over, before going into an epically massive bombastic riff, one minute and 20 seconds into the song. Two minutes and a half in, they go into a riff which sounds oddly similar to Devotchka's The Enemy Guns, however very different in terms of arrangement. A few more riffs, back to the Devotchka riff, with a twist, and the first riff played over it, and the song ends.

Now comes my favorite song. Garage Post Rock masterpiece, 7 Billion People All Alive At Once. As post rock title tracks always do, this one enlightened me. The thought of being only one person of 7 billion people all living, and breathing, and performing the same tasks daily, it's quite amazing, this world, and this is what this song makes me think. Starting with a post rock-ish riff, joined by a very ASIWYFA drum part, the song then goes into a slowly climaxing part, with a beautiful orchestartion, before breaking down shortly into a guitar, line... BADADADA, the many vocals fill the air as the band reprises the post rock riff however with grungy guitar lines and blasting drum parts. This gives me chills every time, the unisono vocals feel as if all the 7 billion people have united for one joined cause. The post rock riff quickly becomes a mathy riff, also reminiscent of Foals. Short drum burst, and back into the riff. Again, they burst, but this time it goes into what would sound like EitS meet heavy ASIWYFA.

Think:Breathe:Destroy is sort of a sequel to Search:Party:Animal, both lyrically and musically. They play a metallic riff alternating between 11/8 and 10/8 before taking a short King Crimson-ish break, and then you suddenly realize how KC it is. They then take another break and blast into a pop meets math metal sort of riff, and then into a grinding, squealing, and screeching guitar solo. Break, once more, and they enter some sort of majory, happy, jumpy guitar riff. They loop over it and play more and more parts until they enter another squealy guitar solo which blasts into another ASIWYFA style riff. Chris goes all out on his drums, bashing everything in sight, while Rory lays out the tracks for Tony to continue with his insane solo. More insane riffage and the guitar loops and drums stop revealing some sort of ambient, airy, synth section, reminiscent of Mew's Chinaberry Tree. Some guitar feedback and growls as the song segues into Homes.

Homes is the weakest part of the album, in my opinion. I find it pretty boring and not nearly as good as the epics earlier in the album. And also, ASIWYFA are not an 11 minute song band, more like five, and that is a style perfected earlier on.

Lifeproof is also pretty dull, as, musically, it sums up pretty much the whole of the album. Not in terms of reprises, just genres. It is, however, boring and lacks the beauty that songs like 7 Billion and BEAUTIFULUNIVERSE have.

Overall, the first half of the album is amazing, but after a while it gets boring and repetitive. This is why, I give Gangs by And So I Watch You From Afar, four out of five stars.

Report this review (#480467)
Posted Monday, July 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Gangs' - And So I Watch You From Afar (7/10)

Math rock remains to be one of the few outlets in progressive rock I have not yet explored, so even while the sound here is not entirely alien to me, this 2011 album has given me an exciting jolt of adrenaline. And So I Watch You From Afar was recommended to me by the former bassist of my band, and showing me a track or two from their first, self-titled album, I found them to be very fresh sounding, impressing me with their technical and sporadic take on post-rock. 2011 sees And So I Watch You From Afar delivering their second dose of strangeness to the world, and it is fairly easy to see why post and math rock fans may be raving over it. Over a forty-five minute period, the band takes the listener on a rhapsodic blitz through a myriad of often technical, often dissonant, and mostly excellent musical ideas; the result is a feeling of awe at the band's display, but also of scatteredness.

And So I Watch You From Afar is incredibly complex music, but they manage to keep it energetic and fun, often switching between sharp, strange moments and more rocking ones. This gives a nice balance for the band's music, and the weirdly technical sound of the band never gets overbearing. Of course, it is the bands experimental approach that are their greatest asset; sometimes I think a crude Bela Bartok guitar composition on LSD, or at other times, Explosions In The Sky on PCP. There are melodies which weave their ways into the more conventional post-rock sections of this album, and those make for an incredibly refreshing change of pace.

The most lasting impression that 'Gangs' remains still in the way they are sporadically able to change between sounds and pack so many ideas into an album. There is structure to the songwriting here, but it appears more in the sense that some of the more memorable hooks pop up here and there throughout the song. Besides that, ASIWYFA has the carte blanche to keep exploring new ideas. The band is instrumental, but they never get boring; there is certainly never the sense that an idea ever gets old. On the contrary, sometimes it feels as if the band would have benefited by sticking on one or two ideas a little longer, and create more of a coherent structure with them. However, for what I'm assuming that the band was aiming for, this scattered and 'out there' feeling that the songwriting has is successful, for the most part.

The ideas here themselves can range from being brilliant in their complexity and arrangement, to sometimes quite frankly irritating; ASIWYFA's mathier dissonance and distorted appeal does not always brush by me the right way, and while I can only appreciate their crazy take on the post-rock sound, it is definitely a sound that leaves plenty of room for flaws. That being said, the band's excellence is fairly evident with 'Gangs', and at the rocketing pace they're going at, one can only expect them to reach the moon before long.

Report this review (#486442)
Posted Tuesday, July 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars Even though some speculate that we're getting close to an end of another progressive rock era, this notion doesn't seem to come across when looking at all the new talent that we've got rounded up just outside our door. This metaphorical door is meant to represent the comfort zone of an average prog fan since they generally base their opinion of a prog movement based on the regressive prog bands and artists.

Gangs is another one of this year's biggest album surprises but please don't let terms like instrumental math rock deceive you since this is far from an experience that only fans of the genre will enjoy. The music is filled with memorable hooks and melodies while still remaining complex and mathematical.

One thing that might not come across from this album experience is that And So I Watch You From Afar is a magnificent live band. Their live performances of these compositions has more than improved on the sophomore album originals and has pushed my enjoyment of the material even further. I'm not sure if there is really any point of dissecting this release into it's individual compositions and performances since this is really a continuous stream of music that is comprised of pure joy to both the ears and mind.

I really hope that more people would be able to leave their preconceptions of this music outside the door and just give Gangs a go based on nothing more than their passion for discovering new music. Just imagine yourself being a brave explorer on the great sea of undiscovered progressive rock music setting a course for the new frontier. The worst case scenario is that you gain a better understanding of the term math rock!

***** star songs: BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION (5:52) Search:Party:Animal (5:18)

**** star songs: Gang (Starting Never Stopping) (5:26) 7 Billion People All Alive At Once (5:44) Think:Breathe:Destroy (4:43) Homes - Ghost Parlor KA -6 To... (2:46) Homes - ...Samara To Belfast (9:50) Lifeproof (5:05)

Report this review (#581976)
Posted Sunday, December 4, 2011 | Review Permalink

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