Explosions in the Sky
The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place
am sick and tired of crescendos. I'm sure that's just a passing feeling, but recently I've listened to too many albums where maybe a fifth of the music has received a good ninety percent of the effort. Predictability has taken its toll, as has the contempt that familiarity brings.
Explosions In The Sky, thank goodness, are different. There are crescendos, to be certain, parts where everything gets louder and the songs climax. But the care lavished on the parts in between are what distinguishes The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place from a hundred other GY!BE-alikes that float around and garner accolades. There no gimmicks here, no real conceptual hooks. Nothing but four guys from Texas who play guitar, bass and drums, and don't sing. There are no political statements, no explicit narrative, just sound.
The whole album echoes and reverberates in your head, swelling and receding, ambient in so far as they do not demand attention, although they richly reward it. The songs, such as they are, flow into one another enough that I could not tell you where one ends and another begins. The song titles ('First Breath After Coma', 'The Only Moment We Were Alone', 'Six Days At The Bottom Of The Ocean', 'Memorial', 'Your Hand In Mine') lend an appropriately valedictory air to The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place, not one of mourning but of tribute. And, as the title indicates, there is love and hope in these sounds.
Which certainly isn’t anything new. There are bands that sounded like this before. There will be bands that sound like this after. They have clearly been influenced, knowingly or not, by Godspeed and Mogwai, The Ascension and Hex, by the possibility of guitars, not supporting a song, but inhabiting it fully.
I can't pin down why I respond to this music so fiercely, why Explosions In The Sky succeed, and succeed totally, in a field where even the best have recently seen failure. They say the sky is bigger in Texas; maybe that helps. The sky over where I grew up was bigger, too, colder and with the Northern Lights instead of the omnipresent southern horizon, but maybe the effect was the same.
I almost copped out and didn't give this record a full 10.0. Then I re-read our guidelines; 10.0 is "Essential". The feeling I'm left with, after 'Your Hand In Mine' ebbs away, is that I may never need another instrumental album like this again. The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place has already provided what may be the ideal version. And for that, it is absolutely essential.
STYLUSMAGAZINE.COM'S ALBUM OF THE WEEK: NOVEMBER 3-NOVEMBER 9, 2003