Sunday, October 2, 2011

Album Review: apolar. - the design.

On a few of their pages, apolar. has been described as the perfect combination between This Will Destroy You, Caspian, and Explosions in the Sky. This could not be any closer to the truth. The debut EP from apolar., the design. borrows sounds and aspects from each of these bands, as well as some of their influences, notably Pelican and Gifts From Enola as well, in order to progress their sound into something similar to an early exploration of self-produced post-rock, but far exceeds what one might expect from this.

Their opener, "the constants." is what would be likely to happen if This Will Destroy You decided to do a song crossover with Explosions in the Sky. It is essentially that artistic love child. Drums and two soft, echoing guitars in the background start the mood, alternating between light and dark, like a cloudy day that keeps shifting back and forth, between a state of brightness and overcast. However, as the song progresses, the guitars pick up a new life, with more hard-hitting powerchording in the lower end and a distorted lead taking control about halfway in, fast and lively drums following intently for the rest of the song, until an ominous synth takes over for the rest, leading the song to fade away spectacularly.

The fifth track on the album, "the city streets are flooded again." is a mostly ambient guitar / piano driven piece, which is a lovely change of pace on the EP. The piano provides mostly chords throughout, and the guitar just adds in a floating tremolo line, so there isn't really a lot going on during the song, but throughout the song, my mind just had a tendency to wander, and the song has a very relaxing, but very bittersweet emotional value to it. Despite being about six minutes long, it didn't feel like it was too distended or excessively dragged on either. With a melodic line that lapped in and out like gentle waves, or a tree sighing and bowing in a lazy breeze, the song feels very cleansing and calm.

This album reminds me a lot of what I heard when I started to listen to the early releases of post-rock, in the more laid back and flowing route of the first albums by Explosions or Sigur Ros, or maybe Mogwai (not as far back as something like Tortoise). It's a fantastic hearkening back to that era, but also a bit of a modernizing update - it's not all based on one or two instruments all the time, and the feel jumps around a lot, so that while a majority of it feels like old post-rock, there's a little feel of riffing akin to This Will Destroy You's Tunnel Blanket, and also a little taste of some Pelican in there, which is a really good mix, because it brings the variety of post-metal in without completely changing the feel. This is a great album, and I'm sure just about anyone who's listened to post-rock in their lives would enjoy it.

Download it for free on apolar.'s Bandcamp page.

Track Listing:
1) the constants.
2) winter's stare.
3) machines.
4) the design.
5) the city streets are flooded again.
6) whispers to wolves.

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