Explosions in the Sky – The Wilderness
As with any Explosions in the Sky record, it’s difficult to arrive at the right words. The adjective palette feels curiously lacking, similes are out of reach. Facts we can do – the band’s sixth (non-soundtrack) album, the nine tracks present are a little in duration compared to what came before – yet beyond that, the post-rock descriptive framework sees the beatific auspices and sheer attention to detail behind The Wilderness undersold.
What isn’t in doubt is that the Texan quartet’s latest feels very much attuned to textural evolution; of taking any dichotomy between light and shade, melody and discord, or quiet and loud, and applying it in novel configurations. They've a form of spatial awareness that's hardly indicative of rock and pop tropes; the titular opener glides amidst a deceptively simple call and echo, prompting much of the guitar/piano/electronica discourse elsewhere.
The material also doesn’t want for flexibility; The Ecstatics balances upon a percussion-led midpoint, while Logic of a Dream turns its centrifugal force in on itself. Disintegration Anxiety even flirts with dub rhythms, without any whiff of a band trying too hard.
That The Wilderness is informed by naturalism is perhaps an obvious statement to make, considering its title. Yet there’s nothing pastoral here; each layer of complexity arriving unforced, be it the lamenting timbres of Landing Cliffs, the spiky two and half minutes of Infinite Orbit, or the restrained muscularity of Colours in Space, perhaps the track most akin to the back catalogue. A beautiful record; you just wish the vocabulary existed to do it justice. [Duncan Harman]