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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 | 230 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars The '01 album "Those Who Tell the Truth (...etc. etc. etc.)" marked a quantum leap forward in confidence and style for the Post Rock shamans from Austin, Texas, after their uncertain studio debut the previous year. But that sophomore effort still showed the stretch marks of a difficult gestation: stealing voice-over film monologues to underline musical points, and so forth. It would be another two years before the maturing sound of Explosions in the Sky finally matched the band's fanciful name: erupting into the west Texas firmament on a rapturous blaze of instrumental glory.

And once again I find myself apologizing for the hothouse flowers of my over-fertilized prose (hardly inappropriate in a Progressive Rock forum, you would think). I had already heard a few isolated selections from the album, on their page here at ProgArchives and at the band's own web site. But absorbing the entire thing in a single, uninterrupted sitting was a revelatory experience, by turns uplifting, mournful, triumphant, cathartic, elegiac, and devastating. It's no wonder my rhetoric turned purple in response.

On a strictly emotional level the closest kneejerk comparison would be to the majestic year 2000 GY!BE epic "Lift Your Skinny Fists (...etc. etc. etc.)", re-imagined on a more intimate and personal scale. There's an almost symphonic grandeur to the album that Beethoven or Wagner might have recognized and applauded, beginning with the nine-plus minute intro "First Breath After Coma": a brilliant title, by the way, for such transfiguring music. And yet there's also a disarming simplicity to the arrangements and performances, wistful and delicate one moment but overpowering elsewhere.

The music achieves its apotheosis in the awesome climax of "Memorial", rising gradually from a series of long, overlapping guitar sustains toward a pyrotechnic release of dramatic tension, before reaching graceful resolution in the beautiful coda "Your Hand in Mine". All five of the album's tributary movements combine into one broad river, flowing together more smoothly than any other EitS effort before or since. The writing is likewise more intuitive, and the balance of sound more natural: the expected bursts of fuzzed-out noise are less abrupt, and the drumming less reliant on over-produced boom-thud cacophony.

To be honest I wasn't expecting anything more than the usual Post Rock epiphanies, aglow with higher purpose but stuck in the same shining rut. The typically long-winded, moody yet hopeful album title; the lovely but reticent artwork by Esteban Rey (...Stephen King?); the chiming double- guitar configurations...all point to standard Post Rock style and usage. But musically it remains one of the defining albums of its kind: a desert-island essential in the remote Post Rock archipelago.

A word of advice, however: don't cherry-pick samples as I first did. Immerse yourself fully in the unabridged 46-minute aggregate, and (again, with apologies!) touch the wonder.

Neu!mann | 5/5 |


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