Friday, November 25, 2011

Album Review: Followed By Ghosts - Still, Here

Followed By Ghosts is a band from Iowa. This is literally all of the information you will find about them on Facebook. I suppose, though, if you pay any attention to the saying "actions speak louder than words", you won't be too bothered by them. Still, Here is the third album released by Followed By Ghosts, and they portray that the three year gap in between albums was a solid three years in expanding ideas and learning how better to express themselves. The band draws influences from godspeed you! black emperor and Explosions in the Sky when discussed, but after listening to the album, they really seem to throw all that those artists have laid down out the window and painting expression on a canvas of their own. What they've given us is radically different, wonderfully beautiful and unique

The opener on the album opens quietly, with guitars played by Mitchell Avery and Daniel Payne singing a interweaving duet. As choral voices and an electric bass join the fray, however, the life of the song really begins to expand out, the cool melodies of the guitars being promenaded by the sound of voices and furthered by the warm bass. After a short guitar bridge, David Maixner gracefully joins in on drums, softly at first. However, as Maixner begins to sound more frantic on the drums, the rest of the band jumps back in, and the buildup of the entire song culminates in a distorted jam, with the guitars leading the way, restating the original melody of the song in a way that shows as much power in the end as it did sensitivity in the beginning, a fantastic reversal and a great culmination of the slowly reinforcing progression of the song.

"Close" opens with a rich, weirdly-nostalgic atmosphere, with heavy muted guitar strumming and lots of reverb, while a heavy, tom-centered drum rhythm beats in the background. Each drum hit is precise, calm, and articulate, which is a little strange for post-rock, but it sounded very solid, especially in line with the methodical guitar strumming. The section after the intro provides a melodic counterpoint to the percussive intro, bringing in piano and an ethereal guitar line, with enough reverb and distortion to color the sound of the guitar into a familiar, warm drone, causing me to reminisce back to a song off of Moonlit Sailor's Colors in Stereo, like Kodak Moment. The chord work in combination with the drums on the bridge is inexplicably breathtaking, and with the addition of the piano, the section almost deserves infinite repetition, to keep it lasting just a little longer, to savor the melodies laid forth. The resolution of the song begins around two minutes before the song actually ends, essentially teetering back and forth between an E major and an A major chord, in a feel-good manner that releases the listener in a gentle manner, backing away slowly, sustaining and slipping away after the tremolo guitar dissipates. Maixner ends the song as carefully as he began, every hit on the drums counting for something, but also playing as gently as the piano that ends right before his solo outro.

This album is a gem. I'm sadly disappointed in myself that I hadn't heard of this band earlier, but I'm glad to have found them. If there were any critiques that I could see this band receiving, it'd probably involve song endings being too concise, needing more of a conclusion for each, but honestly I don't feel that's a real problem. The band actually draws a fantastic comparison alongside Moonlit Sailor - a lot of the instrumental qualities of the two bands line up quite closely. However, the intent and feel of Followed By Ghosts is something all their own. They've created a musical experience that requires more than words to really explain - something that scarcely few bands are able to accomplish. I went into this album not knowing what to expect, but I finished the listen with high hopes for this band.

Album Rating: A-

You can stream the album for free, as well as purchasing it to support the band, on their Bandcamp.

Track Listing:
1) King, My Queen
2) Sleep On It
3) Beards of the Patriarchs
4) Noosepaper
5) Through Leaden Clouds
6) Close
7) Still, Here

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