Being Parhelia isn’t easy. You’ve got to interest people in music that has no frontman leaping about, nor even communicating directly. Further than that, each cd you do has to be somehow different from the last, which in Post Rock is difficult enough as it stands. So it’s always interesting to see what the Dublin lads are up to, especially after their ‘A Moment In Review’ demo, which really was the highpoint of their last incarnation, and enjoyed serious praise here.
It’s been a while since then of course, and the world has moved on. What they do now has had to be forcibly worked on to overcome the hurdles listed above. Live, they’ve never sounded better, as their support slots to Anathema this year ably showed. The question is whether that live immersion can be translated to cd.
This latest offering largely does it. Taken for granted that each song, because of their style, will follow a loud/quiet/loud development with plenty of crescendo and reverb (it’s Post Rock 101, kids) it’s interesting how interesting the modalities become. What does that mean? Well, I get the distinct sense that these songs are more or less defined by the guitar effects they choose to use for each. They become each song’s voice, in the absence of one at the front of the band.
It’s not as winsome as before, and there seems to be an almost neutral vibe to their music – their line between what’s sunshine expansive and melancholy dreamy isnt always even clear, as the end of the (appropriately named) ‘Inertia’ demonstrates. For fans of Explosions In The Sky and their ilk this may well be a no brainer, and that’s not just because Explosions In The Sky fans generally have no brains. Where the rest of us are concerned, latter day Gathering fans will appreciate a lot of what’s on here, and the likes of Mars Volta, Porcupine Tree and Mogwai find themselves referenced occasionally as well.
As ever from Parhelia, it’s quality, well put together and tonally mature stuff. What I’m wondering these days though is what the message, what the reason is – maybe with subsequent releases they’ll come back off the fence like they used to?
3.2 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 07/06/09