The Seven Mile Journey
The Journey Studies
hat is it about crescendo-core that causes bands to take so long in constructing it? It’s been more than three years since the last Explosions in the Sky full-length, it’s been at least five since a Mogwai record mattered, and it took The Seven Mile Journey seven to craft their debut. For a group of bands that trade heavily in the art of hypnotic repetition and simplistic minor-key melodies, you’d think that they’d be able to put out a record at least once a year (if only because they average six songs a record, anyway).
We’ll take what we can get, though, and The Journey Studies is good. Good like a very competent imitation of Explosions in the Sky is good. Don’t believe the comparison? The Journey Studies is forty-two minutes long and contains four songs. Each song focuses itself around one or two main melodic themes, building themselves up only to relieve their tension in climaxes akin to Old Faithful’s schedule. You can set your watch to it. The guitars, when not gently plucking out clearly enunciated minor-key motifs, switches off into tremolo for a change of pace. The drums are used sparingly, often falling into pseudo-militaristic drum patterns when the pace quickens. And, of course, it’s all instrumental.
In fact, it’s so by-the-numbers that if you didn’t know the name of the band you might actually mistake it for EitS. That is except for the minor inclusion of piano on “The Murderer/Victim Monologues” and on the album’s most interesting and shortest track, “Theme for the Oddmory Philosphies.” That song features a simple piano line, repeated endlessly as bass and drums lightly add their contributions underneath. It flows seamlessly into the aforementioned closer, “Murderer,” as the guitars take up the task of tension-building for the inevitable release six minutes later (before they do it all over again).
If there’s a reason that this all sounds rote on the page, I’ve done my job: sterility and composure are the name of the game here, despite what the crashing drums, tremolo’d guitars, and plodding piano player might have you believe. If you’ve heard epic post-rock before, you’ll know exactly what this sounds like.
There’s a heartbeat that begins this record, reoccurs throughout, and finishes the whole thing off. It’s hard to say whose heartbeat it is, though. The generous side of me hopes that the group went down to a hospital and went to the trouble of hooking up to some expensive machines and getting it recorded especially for this album. The more suspicious side tells me that it’s just as borrowed as all of the ideas that compose The Journey Studies. Why does it take so long to make a post-rock album? When you’ve perfected a style so completely, there’s nowhere else to go.