Let Airplanes Circle Overhead
Let Airplanes Circle Overhead
o after Let Airplanes Circle Overhead's debut has gone through a couple of tracks, I'm all set to mark it down as a graceless homage to Mogwai's 4 Satin EP and move on. Admittedly that particular release is an interesting one to work from; harsher and starker than any of the band's albums, “Superheroes of BMX” and “Stereodee” regularly erupt into flurries of guitar, and their black-and-white surges offer something a lot more programmatic than the blood red of their recent work. Except for Aidan Moffett on “Now You're Taken,” these songs and most of the others collected on EP+6 don't sound robotic or removed so much as inhuman, the thrashings of machines and cities left to their own devices.
As you can tell I love that EP, but I'm the first to admit that most of the bands out there who lavish devotion on that sound justifiably don't get very far; like most imitations they lose the charm of the original but this type of music goes especially flat without that certain je ne sais quois. So as I said, I'm all set to dismiss this group, sigh gratefully at not having to expand undue amounts of effort at caring one way or another about another debut of instrumental rock, when on fifth or sixth listen a track called, “I Laughed Until I Stopped Laughing” made my head turn.
I didn't notice it at all before and I've been having a hard time getting a bead on it since (and some parts still seem almost laughably devoted to their elders—the bit where the drums kick in is a dead ringer for parts of Come On Die Young), but something in that song blossomed into cold life, suggesting that Let Airplanes Circle Overhead was worth keeping track of. After all, the band that most embodies the approach they seem to be using have moved on, for better or for worse, and by sheer dint of context this one is never going to sound exactly like them. And further listening with a bit more hope in mind revealed promise; “Pengatross” and “Rwanda” still seemed a bit formulaic with their detours into distortion and riffage, but there was something lurking there, some life within the machines (“Fury Against the Formless” and “Hired Guns of the Old West,” though, sound about how you'd expect).
I'm now in the exceedingly odd position of being relatively interested in what this band does next, because provided they're not thrashing around purely for the reductive thrill of thrashing around they could eventually wring something interesting out of their rigor and skill. At the same time, I do not actually like their debut all that much. It's the closest I've come to actually hearing potential, except that pretending I can tell what I'd like the band to sound like would be a little much. They've got rage and restraint down; now let's see them take those hairpin turns a bit more smoothly and get some dirt under their fingernails and there'll be real problems. Until then this one is, in the very best sense, strictly for the devotees of the style.
Reviewed by: Ian Mathers
Reviewed on: 2006-02-22