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Explosions In The Sky - The Wilderness CD (album) cover


Explosions In The Sky


Post Rock/Math rock

2.42 | 20 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars The celebrated Austin quartet spent the previous half-decade doing movie scores, and on their first stand-alone album since 2011 the group appears stuck in that same, soundtrack mindset. In place of the expected "cathartic mini-symphonies" (their own words) the new album collects a random assortment of shorter instrumentals, each one attractive in its own modest way but together not adding up to an impressive sum.

Every track might have been a leftover doodle from an unrealized film commission, buffed to a spotless high-gloss sheen but hardly developed beyond the level of an impeccable demo. My apologies for using the lowest adjective in a Proghead's critical arsenal, but the dreaded m-word applies here: "The Wilderness" is a very mainstream album, tailor-made for wider commercial appeal with its less challenging, easier-on-the-ears Post Rock aesthetic.

There's nothing wrong with taking the low road, for a change of scenery. But the means to that end required the band to downplay all the uncanny magic that made their earlier albums so compelling. The title track is a good example, presenting a not unpleasant techno variation of the classic EitS sound, more effects-driven than usual but still evocative, up to a point. Previously the music would have risen gradually to a heavenly crescendo, instead of ending suddenly on an unresolved fadeout, well before the five-minute mark.

No album by artists this sensitive or intelligent is going to be a complete sell-out. But it's certainly the band's weakest offering since "The Rescue" (2005): a shallow wade into lukewarm waters from a group more accustomed to the raptures of the deep.

Neu!mann | 2/5 |


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