Last month I wrote some words for Monotreme Records, to support their release of This Will Destroy You‘s new (second) album, Tunnel Blanket. It’s a wonderful record, really, and I encourage anyone taken with Brian Eno, Stars of the Lid, or even the more texturally rich aspects of Sigur Ros (those bits where he’s not bleating on about orcs, or whatever) to give it a listen when it emerges in May. Now that the record has been officially announced, here are those words in full. (So no, I can’t review it later.)
In any relationship, it’s often what’s not said that lingers longest,
taken from an encounter and rendered indelible. Texan four-piece This
Will Destroy You realise this better than most instrumental outfits,
peppering their material with dialogue that’s no slave to language, to
vowels and tongues. It’s communication without bounds, expressive and
emotive and, most importantly of all, highly memorable.
Tunnel Blanket is the group’s second long-player. It follows a
well-received eponymous debut of 2008, a record that earned the band
many an attractive comparison to post-rockers who, for the sake of the
past being just that, will remain nameless here. But to This Will
Destroy You – founding guitarists Chris King and Jeremy Galindo,
bassist Donovan Jones and drummer Alex Bhore – the parallels were not
so welcomed. Their sound world was theirs alone to inhabit, any
coincidences just that. So, for album two, a new direction was
inevitable, ties binding them to any scene tossed and forgotten.
Tunnel Blanket delivers the epic-in-scope soundscapes that followers
of its makers’ previous recordings are accustomed to, but presents
them in new lights – where once the sun shone down bright upon
immediate tropes and traits, now their work is better suited to
distant starlight, casting changeable shadows across vistas of
inspired, ambitious amplification. This is not an album to pick
through in search of bold hooks and instant melodies. It is an
ever-shifting, always moving work, which seems to evolve before the
listener – spidery guitar lines feeling their way forth like vines
scrambling up trunks in time-lapse photography.
Recorded with John Congleton (Black Mountain, Bill Calahan, Modest
Mouse), Tunnel Blanket’s eight tracks can be heard as movements in a
single work – each constituent as important to the overall ebb and
flow of proceedings as any other. Within each a certain beauty is
manifested, one born of a desire to step free from common pigeonholes
and into a realm where parallels are, at best, fleeting: a glimpse of
Fennesz here, of Stars of the Lid in the record’s more serene
passages. Brian Eno’s Apollo album may come to mind on a couple of
occasions. What Tunnel Blanket categorically is not, however, is a
release that shares its genes with anything that could be deemed
typically post-rock in structure. The builds here keep building; the
breaks are permanent. Listen and it’s like the guitars are singing out
a paean to the endless space above, celebrating the primal splendour
of the unexplored dark.
Listen, closer, and everything becomes clear. No words, just sound;
patterns and phrases, but no chorus, nothing approaching a standard
rock motif. But communication is absolute and enduring, Tunnel
Blanket’s message evident. Dare to disengage with what is perceived as
convention and the rewards are manifold. And the listener is sure to
carry them for no little time.
Below is Threads, from the Texan band’s eponymous debut. Its follow-up isn’t really in the same vein – but it carries elements across, so fans of the first record are sure to ‘get’ the second.