Explosions in the Sky: How Strange Innocence (Temporary Residence, 2005)
Explosions in the Sky! Do they really need an introduction? Creating musical landscapes that have dotted the wastelands of Friday Night Lights and have worked their way into many a fan’s radio, this band’s sound has traversed the world, selling out shows in counties such as Croatia. Beginning as a threesome and later adding another to the group, Christopher Hrasky, Michael James, Munaf Rayani, and Mark T. Smith set out to create what would become the essence of instrumental rock in the states. How Strange Innocence is a testimony to the band’s chemistry and brilliance. This re-release of their first release is essential for those who had fallen in love with their music through their last two lp’s. How Strange Innocence was recorded in two days and has a raw energy about it that bleeds brilliance. Subtle and electric, their first release foretold their every growing artistic influence and surpassing excellence to come.
How Strange Innocence begins with “A Song for Our Fathers.” The guitar shimmers as the bass plays the foundational line of the song. Simple, yet poignant guitar lines compliment the perfect bass line, while subtle drums play under all the guitars. The variations in the guitar work are appropriately placed and the feedback subtle, creating a somber mood. This eventually explodes into louder drums and louder guitars and bass. One of the guitars whines and moans in between the bass and chiming guitar. Rumbles sink in and out of the song, as if suppressed anger were ready to burst forth. This song gives mild foretastes of what would be their explosive sound on their subsequent albums. “Snow and Lights” begins quietly and quickly builds to a complex drum arrangement sprinkled with what sounds like bells. This song allows the quieter moments to be patient and the band gives exquisite accents to their furiously complex bursts of energy. Simply beautiful.
“Magic Hours” calms down the energy a bit and has a subtle, stripped down arrangement to start with. The bass sits patiently between the shimmering guitars, holding tempo and bliss together in quiet magnificence. The emotive calm is peppered with changing guitar lines and some quiet, driving drum work. About two minutes from the finish, the drums become driving and thunder under distorted walls of sound. “Look into the Air” begins with a light, layer of guitar and shimmers with tambourine and stripped down drums. It is amazing that this album was recorded only seven months after the band formed. It is patient, intelligent, and breathtaking piece of art. Just as “Look” lulls you into its beautifully hypnotic spell, silence hits, then distorted guitar coupled with a trip-hop style drumbeats and shimmering guitars plays the song out. “Glittering Blackness” begins with careful, slow guitar lines that are somber. Mixed with harmonics, this song eventually becomes aggressive, with heavy snare and distorted guitar. The tumult is balanced by a return to a softer, melancholy feel. The guitars begin to compliment each other, playing different lines and bringing an exquisite depth to the song.
“Time Stops” begins with metonymic guitars, shimmering as they dance with one another. This is the longest track on the disc, but, of course, it never gets boring. “Time” has a much longer build to it, which makes the emotion of the song intense. The build lasts all the way through the song and grows into a lush wall of sound. “Remember Me as a Time of Day” begins with low notes reverberating through the speakers. The tone is hopeful and soft, leading the listener through a slow build. This patiently fades away as one anticipates a build that will explode, but it never comes. Beautifully done.
As a portend to their later releases, Explosions in the Sky came out of the gate with a piece of beautiful art. How Strange Innocence is a must own for all who dig this band, and, if you have no experience with their music, it is highly recommended. Go buy all three of their discs!