Saturday, September 24, 2011

Album Review: Collapse Under The Empire - Shoulders & Giants

A fantastic mix of hopeful, dark, and anarchic post-rock and instrumental music, Collapse Under The Empire hails from Hamburg, Germany. Their music embodies a variety of big-name bands in instrumental music, notably God is an Astronaut, Mogwai, and Sigur Ros, as well as Explosions in the Sky and 65daysofstatic, and each of these influences actually appears in this album, as well as throughout their earlier works.

The second track on the album, "Giants", carries with it a bit of a more murky feel, opening with synths and tonal drum hits, contrasting sharp staccatos with flowing, minor-keyed legatos, and eventually a light, angelic keyboard line. As the song progresses, the drums help to bring the song along, and a reverbed guitar brings another deep and melancholy element to the track, which begins to build up with a final addition of bass. The keyboard actually leads the melody, with sadly crooning guitars providing most of the chord structure, and a moving drum line akin to God Is An Astronaut helps to provide a strong sense of tempo variety. As the song progresses to its final chorus, all amps are turned up to 11, and the guitars scream depressive lines of their own as the song ends in chaos.

The closer on the album, "A Riot of Emotion", evokes what it promises. The song begins with a very 65daysofstatic feel, with a very dry drumline and some simple synths over the top. Eventually, a guitarline similar to something Torsten Kinsella or Stuart Braithewaite might dream up. However, the overall feel of the song is something very similar to any track off of Explosions' Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, with a very emotional, guitar-based buildup and interlude, echoing effects abound. The part it feels most similar though, is at the end, where light synth bells eventually lead into a gentle, peaceful conclusion.

Once I learned what kind of influences this band had, I was excited to listen to the album. The eponymous tracks, "Shoulders" and "Giants", both lend a hand in making this album what it is, but the other songs help to shape the rest of the album just as equally; there would be no darkness of "Shoulders" without the contemplative, optimistic sound of "The Sky Is The Limit", for example, and these kind of special things are what make this album very special. Fans of instrumental music will absolutely rave over Shoulders & Giants.

You can sample Collapse Under The Empire on their MySpace, their LastFM, and their official site.

Track Listing:
1) Shoulders
2) Giants
3) There's No Sky
4) The Last Reminder
5) The Sky Is The Limit
6) Disclosure
7) After The Thaw
8) Days Of Freezing
9) Incident
10) A Riot Of Emotion

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