Maze of Woods is the ultimate slice of second-gen post-rock nostalgia. Combining the ethereal, crystalline guitars of Explosions In The Sky -- with as many crescendos as you like -- with Matthew Cooper's neo-classical drone, the sparkly super-group known as Inventions make evocative and reassuringly pretty music.
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Better without the beats. Eluvium’s Matthew Cooper and Explosions In The Sky’s Mark T. Smith have endevoured to boldly go where no second generation post-rocker has gone before, using their collaborative project Inventions as a place to work out a new type of beautified melodrama. Stomping beats, hazy distortion, field recordings and glitch pop all join the usual framework of ambient fog and Friday Night Lights-core guitar, making ‘Maze of Woods’ the least conventional -- but most overstuffed -- piece of music both artists have tried their hand at.
The opening sample offers Invention’s mantra: “I wanted to do something that I didn’t know how to do” (ironic, considering how overused the context-less vocal sample is in post-rock, but let’s not dwell). It’s obvious from the track’s stuttering collation of flatlining beats that both artists are out of their comfort zone, and while it’s a genuinely shocking introduction, the grace and beauty of this record is found in its more familiar moments -- when these artists appease their trademarks, no one can touch them. “Springworlds” goes unimpeached by beats and instead using a wordless vocal hum to ascend a noisy drone to the clouds. “Peregrine” mixes the transcendently loud ambient of ‘Copia’ with another distanced vocal and trembling glitches, eventually reverting to the beat-driven uprising of the record’s opener.
There’s a lot to unpack here, but what’s obvious is that both artists are using this as a cathartic release, an unleashing of the ideas that have been festering with them for years. Their new sounds are often beautifully employed, even if they don’t sequence well -- without the record around it, “Slow Breathing Circuit” would work marvellously, using processed acoustic strums and tinkering sound effects for a soundtrack of biological proportions -- it'd do well on a documentary about a bear cub learning to walk. It’s interesting to hear these seasoned experts of simple beauty try and complicate things; I liked the soundscapes when they were beatless, though. Less Coldplay vibes.
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