Zelienople – The World Is A House On Fire
Posted In: Brian Harding, John Boursnell, Matt Christensen, Mike Weis, The World Is A House On Fire, Type, Zelienople, Zelienople - The World Is A House On Fire
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“I’m afraid to move” are the first lines on the new Zelienople album, but this has nothing of the cabin-fever claustrophobia that it might suggest; none of the inward musical gestures of anxiety that the isolationist strands of post-rock display. Instead, The World Is A House On Fire looks outwards to the horizon. Now, post-rock is a term we’ve skirted round before – here, I want to use it to suggest the use of instruments as texture, the non linear song structures, the way the vocals smudge into the ringing tones or arcing parabolas of gentle saxophone. Its this quality that makes lines like “just a thousand faces” part of a whole – song form as colour and shape rather than angst and personal catharsis. Vocals equal to bass lines, hooks from repetition rather than choruses – ‘rock music’ as expanded field.
Mike Weis, Matt Christensen and Brian Harding use percussion, baritone guitar, saxophone, reverb drenched vocals to open up these songs to something loose and spacious. There are hints of deep canyon-country guitar twangs, rumbling toms skirting around the rhythm set by the bass – particularly on the austere landscapes of Chemist. Similar to the way shoegaze tradition or post punk bands used the guitar to create blended snowdrifts of sound, on this album, Zelienople also hint at the ‘inside out’ instrumentation and oceanic backing of late Talk Talk, as well as the textures of Scott Walker’s Climate of Hunter. And though this is a less panic stricken album, the closing Out Of It, with the cavernous pauses between lines and understated production recalls that album’s coda Blanket Roll Blues – if only for its sense of exhaling calm, which even a final rising tide of noise can’t dispel.
And that is another of this album’s strengths – the sense of rise and release – at least in the music. Toward the centre of the album – Island Machine, Colored – we get more insistent drums, more brightly focused synth sounds, more melodically resolved guitar parts – while the opening and closing tracks are hints, suggestions of songs. And what the songs suggest is not anxiety as such, but an inbetween-ness – “at the edge of space” – songs that point to landscapes and skies and underpasses and distant towerblocks. Again with this music, it’s the details that make this special – the almost funky bass line buried at the heart of Old Dirt, the restrained sax, the way the guitar tones almost fray at the edge – and all that glorious space between lines.
A confident, subtle album from Zelienople, and another great release from Type. It’ll be interesting to see where they go from here – back towards the song, or out further into the wilderness and ether. – Highly recommended!
- John Boursnell for Fluid Radio