23 November 2013

God Is An Astronaut - Origins



Seven albums into their career and this is where I join the party (sort of).... How I heard about this band is last year I was watching a TV show called 'James May's Toy Stories', in the program the object was to make a big version of a childhood toy; in the case of the show in question, he made a model glider which he was trying to fly to France (it ended up flying elsewhere, but this is not the point to discuss this.  One of the songs played on the show though was truly stunning.  So after a bit of research I found that the song was called "Forever Lost" and was performed by the band you are now reading about.  I can honest say I have very little idea what these guys have done, but after a look on various places I can tell you they are from the Glen of the Downs, Co. Wicklow, Ireland and were formed by twin brothers Niels Kinsella and Torsten Kinsella.  Their name was taken from a quote off the film 'Nightbreed' and this album is their first as a five piece.

Post rock music is either a subject that you will love or hate; you have to have a certain mind type and it does at time feel like the natural successor to Prog Rock at times.  'Origins' is a very good example of what the genre is currently up to in some way.  Like the amazing Exxasens they have a futurist vibe about them.  Now it is not strictly an instrumental album, they is some messed up vocals going on but they are so distorted that it is hard to understand what they are actually talking about.  When you are listening to the tracks, it is quite easy to be lost in the moments that they invoke in your mind.  I spent quite a lot of the time with this album on thinking of watching the North Sea near where I live; it is that sort of reflective album.

Starting with "The Last March" and its simple introduction I have a feeling that this album has already been played many times over the course of this band's career; but it is going to have evolved into this moment, this album that is released now.  It may not be totally original, but I'm not too sure that is the point here.  "Calistoga" is next with a more stomping riff which was a surprise here for me, not a bad surprise, just not what I was expecting; and to be surprised on a Post Rock album is a different experience for me and it is a good one as well.  "Reverse World" has the album on much more familiar territory to be honest.  The slow breading build up, the piano introduction and the building, the constant building that makes this music such a joy for me - the trumpet in the background was different again, and I like that there is things here that I would not expect.

"Transmission" is almost new electronica for me, with the GIAA flavour for the slow and distinctive riff,  "Weightless" has the sort of feedback start (albeit a lot shorter) that would not sound out of place in a noise record (don't worry kids, the fuzzy dreamscapes are back soon enough) and then we have "Exit Dream".  As well played as this song is, something is amiss on it.  I just feel that it was not quite finished to be honest and could have been left for a little longer.  But not every song can be a diamond if the truth be told and "Signal Rays" is sort of more of the same here unfortunately; and I have figured out what is wrong with the last two songs - they have a whiff of Radiohead and Muse about them that is not right for this music.  As much as I like the other bands (and I do), I like Post Rock to be slightly different to them.

"Autumn Song" is not much better if truth be told; it slows the album down too much and would have been better placed before the last two songs.  "Spiral Cord" is much better, spinning around like some crazy guitar hero anthem waiting to happen and destroy the world. "Strange Steps" has a childlike innocence but with a sense that it could all turn into a horror movie at any point. "Red Moon Lagoon" tries to spice it up again, but is a little too late to save the day even though it is the best track of the album and "Light Years From home" end the album with a typical grand statement that I would expect from veterans of this scene.

This album started off so positively that I was expecting it to be amazing all the way through, when they were doing different things it was brilliant, but the middle section blew a hole in that idea.  This sort of music when done right can be amazing and transcend the idea of the instrumental being boring.  When done wrong, it can torpedo an album and that is what has happened here.  It could have been better, it should have been better, but it is not better.  It is just a shame that some of this ended up halved cooked.  

5 out of ten - It could have been a bit better

You can purchase the album from Amazon here

You can visit the official God Is An Astronaut website here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

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