IBTimes Rating: 4.5
A few things synonymous with Texas-based post-rock/instrumental rock band Explosions In The Sky's 15 year career are evolution, adaptation and durability. "The Wilderness," their recently released seventh studio album and the band's first non-soundtrack album after 2011's "Take Care, Take Care, Take Care," shows that 15 years of sonic experimentation definitely counts when it comes to making music.
Although primarily a post-rock band, Explosions In The Sky have, over the years, expanded their cult following beyond the niche fan following of the genre. This is due to the fact that they narrate stories through instruments in each of their albums and are not bound by the limitations of a traditional post-rock sound. Also, the fact that the band has composed soundtracks for movies and TV shows reflects in their studio albums (Think "Friday Night Lights" soundtrack).
They describe their sound as "cathartic mini-symphonies." A few months ago, I tried to find the origin of this phrase in an interview with Mark Smith, the guitarist of the band. He had said, "There were a few things that all of us liked, including some instrumental rock stuff that was happening at that time, especially Mogwai and Dirty Three. But then some of us brought a love for Pavement and Sonic Youth, some of us brought a love for Fugazi and Dischord stuff, some of us brought a love for The Cure, some of us brought a love for old soul music, and there was some Metallica and Bedhead and My Bloody Valentine thrown in there too. Without any one of those bands we would have turned out differently."
"The Wilderness" is a perfect example of Explosions In The Sky's "cathartic mini-symphonies." It tells stories through a co-existence of cinematic sounds, shoe-gaze music, noise, electronic music, ambient folk and post-rock sensibilities.
True to its name, the album is almost like an exploration of an unknown wilderness. As I listened to it over and over again, I couldn't help but think that the wilderness reflected in the album is not just the literal meaning of the term. It explores the inner space of an unexplored human mind and conveys what it finds there through sounds that are symphonic, bright, dark, emotional and reflective at the same point of time.
Overall, "The Wilderness" is one album which is best listened to as an entire entity and on a good set of headphones or speakers. It grows on you with each listen. In fact, I would say that this album is perhaps their best since 2003's "The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place."
"Disintegration Anxiety," "Colors in Space" and "Landing Cliffs" were the highlight of the album for me.
Listen to, buy and download the album below.