Wednesday, November 23, 2011

REVIEW// Song of Return: Trajectory EP

     Glasgow quintet Song of Return and their latest EP 'Trajectory' were dropped into my inbox a few of weeks ago, and so I apologise for the lateness of this review. The band actually consists of the disbanded members of alt-rock outfit Union of Knives, reassembled under a new line-up with a debut record already hanging from their belts. 'Trajectory's title track was taken from said album and joins three other songs looking forward to a December 12th release date. Now, possibly the most intriguing label that Song of Return have stuck to both these efforts is that of 'post-rock'. As one of my favourite musical genres, this evaluation is one that came with the heavy weight of expectation and which unfortunately, left teased. When you think of post-rock, epic and subtle complexities come to mind, driven to explore apocalyptic worlds and the ugly, twisted nature of human mortality. Compelled to seek out the very basic, almost primal nature of life, void of restraint and limited only to the ability of the group who venture forth into these captivating, mesmerising and often enlightening lands. Mogwai and Godspeed You! Black Emperor emerged unscathed, but for me, Song of Return simply don't deliver on this perhaps arrogant interpretation of their sound. That being said, their obvious labours bear some fruit, just not in the form I was expecting. With a dark rock aesthetic, there is a fascinating and pleasing level of experimentation within the four tracks, though only two of them shine out as being truly superb and sensational!
     Opening with the title track, 'Trajectory' isn't actually the best number on here. There is a pretty nice, subtle build throughout the three minutes, but the drum beat is basic and in the end the layered sound ends up sounding less epic and huge and instead swamps the vocals and feel a little too noisy for my liking. The second track, 'Entwined' utilises this same musique concrète, but makes it work with the ever dominant and powerful singing. Climactic tonal changes within these vocals are executed perfectly, standing out amongst the industrial whirring, reverb and deep, throbbing energy that bursts out near the end. On 'Entwined', Song of Return seem to take a rather heavy Muse influence, incorporating a strong, ordered melody into the chaos, yet it works exceptionally well. 'Heavenly Bodies' follows a similar but somewhat softer ethos, but is ultimately overshadowed by the final number, 'Momentum'. A simply magnificent track, the band's Scottish accent comes to the forefront of the music, building wonderfully to a spine tingling anti-climax. Just as you go to tense for that one, awe-inspiring moment, you're dealt a hauntingly beautiful alternative.
     Overall, this EP went two ways for me. On one hand there is some excellent technique, but on the other this is just some fairly average rock. Two towns split by an uncomfortable middle-ground, uncertain and shaky and lacking in the consistency to get the most out of what is some incredible potential. Stream 'Momentum' below, then find the rest over here.