Finland post-rock quartet Baulta has emerged from the pandemic with a new album, prefaced by a pair of singles and a unified look. All the post-rock hallmarks are here: slow builds, big hooks, peaks and valleys, a sense of catharsis. The quartet is enhanced by piano and strings, expanding the gulf of sound. On second single “Third” (don’t ask), a great dynamic contrast is created whenever drums and guitars rise from the valleys of ivory to climb another mountain.
The theme is universal: “an experience of dissociation and losing your inner self.” Such an experience has been shared across the globe this past year as people have struggled to find their bearings in a continually shifting landscape. The title “While the World Sleeps” may refer simply to night, or to an era put on pause, waiting to reawaken. The central drum roll is like a call to arms, an awakening, or the moment before the curtain is lifted. After a tumultuous midsection, the ending is surprisingly thoughtful. “Hardly Ever Here” conveys the feeling that one has failed to make an impact in the short time allowed. But the title Another Second Chance reminds us that we’re still here: it could have been over, but it’s not, and we still have at least one more chance to jump-start our lives and to get it right, an unexpected mercy.
Track by track, stanza by stanza, riff by riff, the album climbs from the depths like Orpheus, or Joe Simpson, or Aron Ralston, traveling on its way to the light. We can’t stay in the pandemic forever, or winter forever, or wallow in the depths of our hearts. We must make progress; we must move. We may never get a third second chance. (Richard Allen)