Echodrone has certainly come some distance since their 2007 self-titled EP. While “shoegazer” is probably still the best genre in which to place them, their debut full-length The Sun Rose in a Different Place reveals that that’s not the most accurate classification to make. True, the layers of shimmering guitars and sighing vocals are still there, but the band is clearly in the process of honing and refining such elements—which is both exciting and somewhat frustrating.
I’ll come right out and say it: I’m not a big fan of remixes. I understand the need and desire to pay some homage to music that you find inspiring and beautiful. And given our society’s predilection for recontextualizing and reiterating pop culture in general, remixing sort of seems to be the post-modern de rigueur thing to do. But maybe I subscribe too heavily to the auteur idea for artists in general, that the vision put forth by the original artist is the authoritative one—that it’s canon, if you will—and that other versions are, therefore, pretenders to the throne.
That’s one huge generalization, of course, and I don’t mean to whitewash all remixes in existence, nor do I intend to dismiss those with mad remixing skills. But again, generally speaking, if I have to choose between picking up an album of remixes, and getting an album of brand new material—either by the remixer(s) or the remixee(s)—new material will win out almost every time. I yearn for something new, something fresh, something original—and remixes just never quite leave me satisfied beyond the initial piquing of curiosity.
Which brings us to In Sea Remixes, a collection of remixes of Aarktica’s In Sea. And in addition to my normal dislike of remixes, I was especially anxious regarding this particular collection, for two reasons.
Cory Zaradur, who is one half of Language of Landscape—I reviewed their Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow earlier in the month—recently let me know about Talik, his collaboration with Musk’oakA. You could lump Talik in with Language of Landscape, since they’re both “ambient” projects, but that’d be really quite lazy of you. Sure, Slow Motion Breath Forward has plenty of ethereal guitars and drifting textures throughout its five songs, but even a cursory listen will reveal that Talik quickly goes in a very different direction.
It’s the middle of March, and we’re finally experiencing a gorgeous spring day here in Lincoln. The skies are blue and full of sunshine, kids are in the park, and the temperature is in the mid-60s. In other words, about as perfect a day as you can imagine, and you’d think I’d be enjoying some appropriately shiny, jangly music full of cheery hooks and effervescent melodies. But if you’ve any knowledge of the music that Opus has tended to focus on over the last few years, then it shouldn’t really surprise you that I’m listening to an album entitled Memories Fade Under A Shallow Autumn Snow, and yes, it sounds like you think it would based on the title alone.
Working under the Language of Landscape moniker, Chris Tenz and Cory Zaradur bring together the austere ambience of Stars of the Lid with the similar austerity that can be heard in Arvo Pärt and Max Richter’s most sublime compositions. The result is music that slowly envelopes the listener with gentle guitar drones and sparse-yet-evocative piano arrangements, that slowly drifts down around you like, well, a shallow autumn snow.
Let’s get the obvious out of the way first, shall we? Yes, Milhaven are immediately comparable to Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky. But such is the curse of post-rock bands who employ slowburning climaxes and quiet/loud dynamics within their 7 to 8 minute long instrumental epics. That being said, I’m not inclined to write the band off as mere rip-offs, though the similarities to the aforementioned bands do make it somewhat difficult to differentiate Milhaven’s songs. (In other words, you might find yourself humming a guitar line from this album, only to realize that it was, in fact, “Greet Death”.)
But I can’t deny that once Milhaven gets going, with guitars that grow more chaotic with each iteration and rhythms that gain more momentum and urgency with each go-around, it’s hard not to just drop the cynicism and rock out alongside them—or at least, rock back and forth in your office chair while the band unleashes a sonic thunderstorm inside your headphones. Such is the power of good post-rock, I suppose, no matter how many bands might employ the same aesthetic. (Hey, it works for punk rock, right?)