Post-rock is a tricky genre. As a life-long fan, I tend to regard almost all post-rock as good. But each year, only a handful of post-rock albums rise above the remainder, demanding repeat plays. In the Depths of Time, In an Ocean Made of Stars is one of them.
Arriving two years after the band’s last EP, the new set continues the three-song format, albeit in a longer setting. The Italian trio has done well to preserve the elements of modern composition (brass, strings, piano) that are the strength of its compositions. While these were instantly apparent on Soundtrack For a Quiet Place (especially on “Me and You Under the Aurora Borealis”), they step to the fore on the new album.
The clear highlight is the 20-minute opener, “Tell Me Your Theme and I’ll Show You the World.” In light of the fact that the album is only 30 minutes long, it’s a good thing this song is so solid! The strings glockenspiel, trumpet and piano check into the hotel before the first guitar crescendo arrives, booking the best rooms. The drummer is taking his time, sipping a latte in the lobby; he finally approaches at the five minute mark. And what good timing; a minute later, the lobby fills with bass and electric guitars. Then halfway through, everything stops, suspended in amber, the dust filtering through the sunlit blinds. New travelers enter, telling new stories. The tension builds again.
The construction of these tracks is meant to mirror that of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Silmarillon, and does so effectively; Elara references a “musical battle between divine creatures.” As one listens, one can hear lords and ladies, kingdoms and crowns, creatures and conquerors. And yet, these battles do lead to a sort of resolution: a soft crescendo in the opener, a sublime understanding in the closer. Devastation is avoided in favor of reconciliation. As such, the album as a whole becomes a comfort. Battles rage in kingdoms above and beyond, but love wins in the end. (Richard Allen)
Release date: 28 November