EXPLOSIONS IN THE SKY BLOW YOU AWAY
Explosions in the Sky are not an easy band to review, as the all-instrumental quartet plays mood music that moves in stages like the moon. Their latest release, All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, is a dark black hole of a guitar thrashing, drum driving, bass thumping orgy heavy enough for the metal heads, while perhaps just groovy enough for the psychedelic lovers out there.
This is not music to listen to while making babies, unless your significant other is into the freaky shit. No, this album is best enjoyed on a dark night, alone in your car driving into oblivion, or maybe with the lights off in your basement, illuminated only by flickering candlelight and the cherry of a joint. Explosions in the Sky may be recognized by some as providing the soundtrack to the film Friday Night Lights, but they are by no means trying to go mainstream, as the politically conscious foursome refuse to play in LiveNation/Clear Channel venues.
Seven seconds into All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone gives you an idea of what to expect from this band. The brief howling of a guitar leads into a fuzzed-out riff that is soon blown out by the conjunction of the rest of the band, setting the stage for a sonic soul journey into the abyss. This first track, appropriately titled “The Birth and the Death of the Day,” soon trickles into a steady stream of blissful melody, featuring dual guitars trotting alongside one another, driven by a steady bass drum, and showing the lighter side of the band.
Don’t ever get too comfortable in this earthy tone, as in any given moment, black skies appear and turn the mood 180 degrees—though, not in a hardcore way; it somehow remains graceful, like seeing a dead bald eagle being dropped off a cliff. This track smoothly retreats back into the light before segueing into the second cut, “Welcome, Ghosts,” which— with its coordinated drumming—sounds, at points, of a modern military salute.
There are obviously themes in this album of the contrast between light and dark, which can also be seen in the wonderful cover art of the record, displaying a city underwater, barely even visible except for a lone chap in a small vessel holding a lantern. One cannot help picture the city of New Orleans when staring at this cover and imagining what a montage of helpless, stranded victims might look like while listening to this record as its soundtrack.
The album ends with “So, Long Lonesome,” a standard EITS track, augmented by a beautiful piano pattern that is a transplendent ending to this tenebrous journey. This is not an album or a band that one can listen to numerous times throughout the day, as it can get a little repetitive; but, it’s definitely the right one to have on during a thunderstorm or a depressing evening, such as spending Valentine ’s Day alone for the third consecutive year. Bassist Michael James is hard to pick out on this record, but I can imagine that when seeing this band live, his weapon of choice will be ever-present.