Souvenir
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Souvenir's Young America
An Ocean Without Water

Post rock and I used to be really good friends. In fact, I'd probably say that post rock was my very best friend for awhile, turning me on to all kinds of new expansive music and generally making me feel pretty good . Over time, though, this friend started to bore me with the same jokes and stories, and now we barely hang out at all. Once in awhile, though, we talk, and amidst all the anecdotes I've heard a million times, I hear something new and exciting and wonder if we should hang out more often.

It's probably not fair to describe An Ocean Without Water as simply post rock, because like most recent albums that have started out in that sort of catch-all category, it dabbles in a lot of other sounds as well. Over the course of six tracks and forty minutes, Souvenir's Young America dip into everything from doom rock to music that sounds like it came out of a spaghetti western. Synths line up alongside guitars and harmonica and cello as ambience collides with sludgy riffage. In some ways, the group has a lot of things in common with newer work by Grails, as a wide-open approach helps keep things fresh by pulling from a large batch of reference points.

"Mars Ascendent" opens the release with aforementioned riffs and big pounding tribal-sounding tom-heavy drumming. As the track progresses, it lightens in tone, with washes of synth, harmonica, radio-static, and alternately dry and expansive guitars. In doing so, it sounds a bit retro and futuristic at the same time, which is sort of a theme of the album given the instrument combinations. "Blood Alone Does Not A Father Make" continues the general feel, with warm organ and guitar melodies playing off one another as harmonica and feedback drones swirl up and collide as the track builds to a heavier payoff.

With a dose of mysticism, the release goes from wide-open spaces ("Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground") to long build-ups and massive payoffs (the aptly-titled "Invocation In The Caldera"). As mentioned above, An Ocean Without Water has a touch of sci-fi, a bit of mysticism, and a smidge of western feel as well along with the rock backbone, and probably would make the perfect soundtrack to a modern adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' "Barsoom" series. If you've listened to a lot of post rock music in the past couple years, you'll probably have a few "aha" moments, but probably many of deja vu as well.

rating: 6.510
Aaron Coleman 2008-01-17 20:13:55