Explosions In The Sky

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Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die (2002) , 6.5/10
The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (2003), 6/10
All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone (2007) , 7/10
Take Care Take Care Take Care (2011) , 6.5/10
The Wilderness (2016), 5/10

Explosions In The Sky, a quartet from Austin (Texas) fronted by guitarists Mark Smith and Munaf Rayani pushed the wild dynamics of Godspeed You Black Emperor to new heigths (sonically speaking) of epic instrumental post-rock. After a tentative self-released How Strange Innocence (2000 - Temporary Residence, 2005), the proper debut album, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die (Temporary Residence, 2001), indulged in oblique strategies of sudden self-annihilation, in traumatic stylistic u-turns: the pounding ecstasy of Have You Passed Through This Night? (unnecessarily ushered in by two minutes of spoken vocals), the massive riff of Greet Death (followed by interstellar guitar tapestries that, after three minutes, relinquish all power to a gentle Eastern-tinged melody), the mellow strumming of Yasmin the Light that explodes in a terrifying guitar freak-out and then resumes again as if nothing had happened. The 10-minute tinkling fantasia Moon is Down (that, unfortunately, picks up speed and volume in the last three minutes) sounds like King Crimson's Moonchild for the age of hyper-terrorism, stately while dejected. The highlight is the closing 12-minute With Tired Eyes Tired Minds Tired Souls We Slept, that strives to find a balance between guitar impressionism, Glenn Branca-esque minimalism and Indian raga, and, after a fibrillating crescendo, ends up recycling upon itself.
Chris Hrasky, Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith and Michael James had mastered the praxis of improvisation/composition that had been appropriated by post-rock after being refined over the centuries by classical music (the fantasia) and by jazz (the jam).

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence, 2003) is relatively upbeat and way less catastrophic. That means pieces such as First Breath After Coma and The Only Moment We Were Alone are not quite as menacing as the ones on the debut, and the requiem Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean is actually quite moving, and Your Hand in Mine is almost tender. But they remain, fundamentally, copycats of Godspeed You Black Emperor's most basic technique. The general feeling of dejavu is redeemed by Memorial.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Antonio Buono)

Gli Explosions In The Sky, un quartetto di Austin (Texas), hanno spinto le dinamiche selvagge dei Godspeed You Black Emperor a nuove altezze (musicalmente parlando). Dopo un tentativo di auto-produzione con How Strange Innocence (2000 - Temporary Residence, 2005), il vero debut album, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die (Temporary Residence, 2001), sferra l’improvviso colpo Have You Passed Through This Night?, il riff massiccio di Greet Death, il silenzio di Yasmin the Light. Le lunghe Moon is Down e With Tired Eyes Tired Minds Tired Souls We Slept sono le Moonchild (King Crimson) dell’era dell’iper-terrorismo, maestose e demoralizzate al tempo stesso. Chris Hrasky, Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith e Michael James hanno imparato alla perfezione le prassi di improvvisazione/composizione delle quali si è appropriato il post-rock dopo essere che queste sono state affinate nel corso dei secoli dalla musica classica (la fantasia) e dal jazz (la jam).

The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place (Temporary Residence, 2003) è più ritmato e meno catastrofico. Le tracce principali come First Breath After Coma e The Only Moment We Were Alone non sono tanto minacciose come quelle dell’album precedente, e il requiem Six Days at the Bottom of the Ocean è in realtà abbastanza toccante, mentre Your Hand in Mine è quasi tenera. Ma restano, fondamentalmente, copie delle tecniche basilari dei Godspeed You Black Emperor. Il generale senso di dejavu è riscattato da Memorial.

The six instrumentals of All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence, 2007) fullfilled the promises that had only been sketched on previous Explosions In The Sky albums. For better and for worse, Explosions In The Sky had become an assembly machine of carefully-executed post-rock dynamics. The eight-minute The Birth And Death Of The Day barely hints at an epic riff but prefers to indulge in a lulling duet of simple gentle melodic fragments. It suddenly erupts in a loud, colossal shoegazing tidal wave propelled by massive drumming with one guitar's soaring, wavering hymn-like melody pierced by the other guitar's petulant fits, an exercise in post-psychedelic call-and-response. The 13-minute It's Natural to Be Afraid opens with a refrain that sounds like an ancient music-box against the menacing backdrop of a buzzing noise. However, they both die out and are replaced by a pastoral flute-like moan and a mellow dual-guitar lullaby. The song dies again and restarts as an even softer and looser improvisation. Finally (four minutes from the end) it picks up steam in earnest, chirping wildly like a bird at sunrise. The most insistent piece is the eight-minute Catastrophe and the Cure, in which the wavering counterpoint of the guitars runs its course without discontinuities.
Not only are they impeccable pieces that could be used as instruction manuals for apprentice post-rockers, but they also bridge the gap between one transcendent form and another of instrumental music. The impressionistic vignette Welcome Ghosts is the psychedelic equivalent of John Fahey's instrumental transcendent acoustic folk fantasies. What Do You Go Home To is dissonant chamber music, with the guitars emulating piano and cello.
A (tedious) bonus disc contains an entire remix of the album by several artists.

Take Care Take Care Take Care (Temporary Residence, 2011) probably marked a decline in inspiration, temporarily masked by a sophisticated exercise in digital noir arrangements and by the exuberant imagination of drummer Chris Hrasky.

(Translation by/Tradotto da Marco Polverigiani)

I sei pezzi strumentali di  All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone (Temporary Residence, 2007) hanno pienamente mantenuto le promesse appena abbozzate sui precedenti album. Bene o male, gli Explosions in the Sky sono divenuti una macchina assemblatrice di dinamiche post-rock ben eseguite. La traccia di 8 minuti The Bearth and Death Of The Day raramente cade in riff epici ma preferisce insistere su un tranquillizzante duetto di semplici e tenui frammenti melodici. Ruggisce improvvisamente in una rumorosa e colossale ondata shoegaze sospinta da una ritmica pesante con una chitarra crescente, una melodia vibrante come un inno lacerata dagli incalzanti inserimenti dell'altra chitarra, un esercizio di chiamata-risposta post-psichedelico. I tredici minuti di It's Natural to Be Afraid aprono con un ritornello che ricorda un vecchio music-box, sullo sfondo di un minaccioso ronzio noise. Comunque, si spengono entrambi rimpiazzati da un lamentoso flauto pastorale e una calda ninnananna cantata da un duetto di chitarre. Il pezzo si spegne ancora e riparte come un'improvvisazione ancora più soffice e ariosa. Nel finale (quattro minuti dalla fine) si risolleva ardentemente, fragorosamente cinguettante come un uccellino all'alba. Il passaggio più pressante è negli otto minuti di Catastrophe and the Cure, dove il contrappunto tremolante delle chitarre corre il suo corso senza discontinuità. 
Questi pezzi impeccabili, non solo potrebbero essere utilizzati come manuali d'istruzioni per apprendisti musicisti post-rock, ma colmano anche il margine tra due sublimi forme di musica strumentale. La vignetta impressionista Welcome Ghost è l'equivalente psichedelico delle fantasie trascendenti del folk acustico di John Fahey. What Do You Go Home To è musica da camera dissonante. con le chitarre che imitano un piano e un violoncello.
Un (noioso) disco bonus contiene un intero remix dell'album eseguito da vari artisti.

Take Care Take Care Take Care (Temporary Residence, 2011) probabilmente sottolinea un declino nell'ispirazione, temporaneamente mascherata da un sofisticato esercizio negli arrangiamenti noir digitali e dall'esuberante immaginazione del batterista Chris Hrasky.

Mark Smith then formed Inventions with Eluvium. They released the albums Inventions (2014) and Maze Of Woods (2015) and the EP Blanket Waves (2015) containing two lengthy compositions, Blanket Waves (14:12) and Hearing Loss (11:52).

After scoring several film soundtracks, Explosions in the Sky returned with the single Disintegration Anxiety and the album The Wilderness (2016) that contains humbler songs, compared to the past, and more electronic sounds, but basically sounds another film soundtrack, not particularly cohesive and certainly not revolutionary.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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