Rate Your Music may seem haphazard, but it’s also a valuable resource for discovering new music. That’s how we found out about Imaginary Seas. The album is currently ranked #54 out of this year’s 127 post-rock albums, yet has the second-highest overall score, and the highest for an instrumental album: four fans knew something we didn’t, and now we want to spread the news.
The easiest comparison is to Waking Aida’s Eschaton, which came out two years ago and was the soundtrack to a post-rock summer. Imaginary Seas shares that album’s love of dynamic contrast, its ability to show restraint, and its unbridled ebullience. Also key: the integration of horns on three tracks, courtesy of Clément Lemmenicier. At first, one wonders, “Why can’t there be horns on all of the tracks?” But by spreading these tracks out, Fragments also extends the excitement. The distance traveled from solo piano opener “We Are Sailors” to the nonstop drums (and horns!) of “Pyramids” is about as far as a band can push a sound while remaining melodic. Bright, brassy and beautifully paced, Imaginary Seas makes a play for being this summer’s happiest post-rock disc.
While this is the band’s first album, it’s not the band’s first release. The trio has been honing its skills over the course of four years, with a number of singles and EPs. They’ve remixed Nils Frahm, and have had their own work remixed by Poppy Ackroyd, a sign that there’s more going on here than just post-rock. “Off the Map”, the first of the horn pieces, is actually three years old. The patience has paid off, as the newer tracks demonstrate both maturity and growth. The glockenspiel remains, but a harder edge is also apparent, pushing the band to the next level of development.
“Mountains and Lakes” (which also features horns and bass), bursts into bloom at the three-minute mark, the album’s most triumphant moment. It’s a reminder of all we love about post-rock: the slow build, the sudden crescendo. We’re recommending that it be chosen as the album’s second single, as “Lighthouse” has already received the remix treatment. (No offense to the remixers, but we still like the original best.) Fragments may not use the post-rock tag (they prefer ambient electronic pop), but we know what we’re hearing, and echoing their fans at Rate Your Music, we like it. (Richard Allen)