Review: The Seven Mile Journey – ‘Notes For The Synthesis’ (Fluttery Records)

Posted: May 23, 2011 in Reviews
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The Seven Mile Journey are clearly a band that like to take their time, this being only their third releases in over a decade of existence from this Danish instrumental outfit.  Such a measured approach adds weight to their convictions, much like their music this band make, they aren’t in it for the quick kill, they prefer to let things breathe. Yes, this is Post-Rock as we know it, but The Seven Mile Journey have been around for a long time, much longer than most of the current crop of bands currently hijacking the instrumental bandwagon.

On previous outings TSMJ’s immersive style consisted of building long, elongated passages with rich, grandiose guitar arrangements and robust rhythms purposefully increasing the tensity of their sound to almost breaking point.  But rather than detonate a crescendo of atomic distortion, as is expected of bands within this genre, this quartet preferred to display their skillful musicianship.  They often opted to let their compositions drift towards tranquil endings of soft piano sonnets and dreamy heartbeat sequences.  I can imagine it frustrated many a Post-Rock fan, expecting those climactic pay-off’s.

Much of this is true on ‘Notes For The Synthesis’  too, though the band have refined their sound ever so slightly with melancholic piano playing a more prominent role amidst their intense soundscapes.  Flowing like a continuous soundtrack, the tone is broody and desolate, widescreen in scope but contrasted by beautiful shimmering guitar melodies that soar high.  At times, it’s like a full-blown orchestra, yet TSMJ use only guitar, bass, drums and piano. ‘Transits’ is an instant highlight where the band shift from the bombast towards a piano-led led passage of glistening introspection, to produce the most poignant moment on the LP.

At their best TSMJ generate a sound that is absolutely skyscraping.  ‘The Alter Ego Justifications’, at over 20 minutes long is a monster of a song and is the key track here, undeniably powerful and as apocalyptic as anything the likes of Godspeed You Black Emperor ever laid their hands to. The parts that do sound familiar, the one or two moments that recall Mogwai, are outweighed by the exemplary instrumentation and painstaking way they construct each song.  From the cathartic cinematic twists and turns to its colossal arrangements, its mixture of strength and delicacy and its over-bearing sense of desolation, there’s more than enough on ‘Notes..’  to separate The Seven Mile Journey from the pack of copyists.

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