There’s a lovely comfort about settling into an album that is simultaneously fresh and familiar. The Moving Fashion of the Motionless fits the bill, and the duo’s debut album seems to have fallen for the sixth letter of the alphabet, so we have too. Figment Firmament Figtree is warm and enveloping, seeming at times like the work of a foursome, its emotive post-rock titles populated with parentheses. Quite simply, the album flows. Released the same week as F9 (The Fast and the Furious), the set could serve as an alternate, more sedate score, trimming the excesses of the film while preserving the feeling of speeding down the open road in search of some bright, unknown horizon.
This has been an unusual year for post-rock, in that some of the newcomers have outshone the work of the scene’s veterans. This album falls into the EitS field, but with fewer ambient leanings; the guitars seem always to be swirling, the drums a constant comfort. As a half-hour album, it could have been extended with some mid-piece noodling, but we’re glad it wasn’t; there’s no filler to be found here. As once might expect, the pieces tend to build toward climaxes, as bass, piano and synth join the setup, layered to produce a nearly shoegaze sound.
A melancholic message might be gleaned from the titles, the best of which is “Do You Remember When We Held Hands With Bliss (Sorrow).” The set seems like a soundtrack to rumination, and in context might match the perspective of those who are taking inventory after a long pandemic. For the time being, every new album will be seen through this lens: What have we lost? What have we retained? What, if anything, did we gain? A narrow band of tempos allows the album to unfold as a suite of sorrow. And yet, despite all the major riffs and crashing cymbals, by “I Could (Couldn’t) See Us (Anyone),” a tone of resignation is paired with a desire to keep walking, just in case better times are ahead. This tone matches the album’s spiritual undercurrent, as well as the seemingly spiritual suggestions of the band’s name; a fig tree, narrowly escaping death, given one more year in which to produce fruit: akin to the fate of a populace that could have perished in 2020. (Richard Allen)