Six and a half years have passed since Start Stop Worrying, and wow, has this Copenhagen band made progress. We liked them then and we like them even better now. The quintet’s secret weapon (a double serving of drums!) is in full effect, the power of their compositions has increased, and they’ve added a compelling visual component.
The only hiccup is that the first video is hidden within a still frame. One must be extremely patient to discover this treasure, trusting that once a video is advertised, a video there will be! (Once one knows, one may simply move the cursor to 2:50, which we suggest readers do below; then return to the beginning to enjoy the full track.)
Look at those flowers, colors, kaleidoscopes! Listen to those big riffs, especially to the chorus (3:05)! Waves crash through forests (due to the transparency effect); birds fly past a temple and toward the screen. This is some biggie-sized post-rock, even bigger at home. Now rewind and enjoy the double drum intro. No wonder this was the first single; as the saying goes, all killer and no filler. But what does the phrase “Tremendous Efforts” refer to? It may be the process of reforming as a band; it may be the attempt to recover an earlier lightness; it may be the difficult work of saving a planet. How Are We to Fight the Blight? the band asks. On a small, square cover, it’s hard to see that the plastic bag is actually covering an upright being, so we reproduce a different promo below:
Some may think of a terrible Halloween costume, or of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or of the recent ban of plastic bags in one’s community. To zero in on the band’s message, we need more information. So let’s look at the second video, “Sightings.” Once again, BOOM!, we’re right in it with the drums. A bird’s-eye view captures a cavalcade of cars, then trains, freighters, and ~ was that a melting glacier? Tall trees alternate with factories and industry. Three Mile Island collapses. (Did this really happen? Momentarily chilled, I Googled images to make sure.) All the while, the pace is pounding, relentless, like our desire to cut down trees to make hamburgers. The middle of the video relents a bit, cutting to dense imagery of forest and shore. When the music takes a breath, we know an explosion is coming. Here comes those lights and colors at 4:11 (ironically, the number for “Information” in America). It’s fast, it’s pretty, it’s loud, and at the end, there’s only smoke and light.
Let’s move to “In Dead Silence, Hang Your Ghosts.” Each single is two minutes longer than the one before. This time there’s a slow beginning, a welcome change. Lasse Høgh connects his videos with a similarity of style, an 8mm sensibility gracing images of nature at rest and in action, from the small (a butterfly) to the large (a raging torrent). For the first 7/8ths, the video seems to have no message save for beauty, majesty, power. Then there’s a lull, a stop, a burst, and oh no! Humans!
How are we to fight the blight? The Shaking Sensations have chosen to do so by raising awareness, using music and image to send a compelling message. We’ve been hearing similar messages for years, but the more artists align with the immediacy of this message, the more likely we are to spring into action. The fact that the music is so compelling seems, in this instance, like an afterthought. But the album is consistent throughout, and has much more to offer than even these three singles. Those who enjoy “In Dead Silence” are cordially invited to turn to the ten-minute “The Frailness of Your Stem” ~ and what post-rock fan wouldn’t want to check out an album’s longest track? It’s a beaut. The same holds true for the 8-minute “End of Hope,” although it’s much more upbeat than its title implies. By “Arcadia,” (especially after viewing the videos), one may feel at one with nature, honoring the title of the piece, and be inspired to work toward restoring balance. (Richard Allen)