Release Date: 18.02.22
Record Label: Velocity Records
For Fans Of: Delta Sleep, Mogwai, Tricot
Belfast’s lords of all things grandiose team up with Arco String Quartet and visual artist Sam Wiehl to bring us Jettison. A multimedia piece that tests the limits of the album format. An especially brave move when you consider Jettison is their first release on Equal Vision records.
Feet hover over fuzz pedals for the entire first half of this record, holding back the inevitable wall of distortion in a sophisticated manner not seen on previous releases. Tracks like ‘Dive Pt2’ and ‘In Air’ concentrate much more on a kind of vaporous melding between guitar and strings. Restraint is most definitely the order of the day here. A restraint that leaves room for the string quartet to slither its way in and out of each track. A freezing, thawing and melting away effect that successfully links the instruments together in a kind of seasonal embrace. Drummer Chris Wee’s playing is, as always, a particular highlight. Seemingly unable to play a bar that’s decidedly Post Rock, Wee brings a signature Talking Heads meets Zeppelin rhumba to tracks like ‘In Air’ and ‘Hold’; turning atmosphere into groove in something akin to alchemy.
The second half is a different story however. Submerge onwards sees the return of tried and tested ASIWYFA. A move no doubt welcomed by loyal fans, but something of an anti climax. Although there is a lot to admire in the space, fragility and control of the album’s first half, tracks like Emerge and Jettison seem to be well worn fuzz-offs that struggle to bring new ideas to the table. The moment of crescendo eventually spilling onto the canvas in Submerge just seems to hit you like a Smart Car instead of the high speed locomotive promised. That being said, the guitars sound fresh and raw here. Gone is the prerequisite delay/reverb blanket present on previous albums. Instead, they stay dry, hard hitting and nimble. Splintered, spindly and resembling the barbed wire lacerations of Sonic Youth at their most acrobatic.
It is evident that Jettison is a record of two very individual halves. While the second may be more energising to loyal fans, it’s the first half, broad and unencumbered by the laws of gravity, that really screams cinematic. A mixed bag, but definitely an interesting milestone in the band’s career.