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I've had a lot of "challenging" music to review today, which I don't mind in principle but after a few hours it can really clog up your brain. Here to give me a little mental clean-out and loosen me out for more oddness, though, are Inventions. I'm pretty confident they won't be too freaky because it's a collaboration from people involved with trusted post-rocky names Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky.
This isn't the theatrical post-rockiness I had half-expected, though, more understated and uplifting ambient meanderings full of smoky synth drones and twinkly Edge guitar, with snatches of sampled vocals. It does get noisy at times but even then it's not in a rocky way, more of an awkward cloud of grating, howling distortion that hangs over the more celestial sounds. I like how as an album it's quite hopeful-sounding without getting too overtly upbeat, although that does leave it lacking edge in places. Sometimes, though, the last thing an ambient record needs is "edge", so that's not necessarily a criticism. There's something strangely unsatisfying about all that hopefulness and the way it builds up a positive tension that's never really released or resolved.
I can't decide if it's a good idea or if they should've spunked out all that pent up emotion in a grand post-rock finale. There are interesting textures and life-affirming melodies galore here though, it's slickly realised ambient electronica with more than a nod to their post-rock roots.
8/10 Tim Customer review, 11th April 2014
Wasn't knowing what to expect at first... Makes sense now mind having read some interviews about this side project. New age music in a BoC, Eno way with some Spaceman 3, Spiritualised cutting through. I like the additional touches (bells pealing, vocal snippets etc). All rather summery sounding ambience at first but some structure breaks through about half way through and the whole thing slowly lifts off and becomes rather poppy (Abeit in a Schnaussy sorta way). Hold on....! Someone has set the guitars to "Stun" for the last track. Cor! Well, when you consider the full time jobs they had to didn't they? WWHHHEeeeeeeeee! Buy this on vinyl and play it loud during one of them sunny hipster bbq's, film it on Super 8 and make this the soundtrack. You get me? No? Good.
5/10 Mike W Customer review, 27th March 2014
Being a fan of both Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky, I really wanted to like this album more than I did. I'm finding that it's little complaints that are adding up to a lower score than I thought I would have given it. Yup, it is swelling post-rock that starts off with gentle instrumentation and builds -- I was ready for that formula -- but something about it sounds too much like it is trying to be the closing music for a film about overcoming hardship or finally seeing the light of a brand-new day. It's too ... nice ... too uplifting at times. They also dot the music with snatches of vocal utterances -- a treated moan here, a repeated clipped word there -- that is pulling me out of the music and tripping up my ears; for example, in the track "Flood Poems," I find myself waiting for the background humming -- almost like a lowing -- to break out and go all hipster Bobby McFerrin. There are some noisier elements in the tracks that work well against the more languid feel of the album overall, but it's not enough. Maybe additional listens will change my mind. Maybe not.
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