When I heard This Patch of Sky for the first time last fall I was instantly blown away by the beauty of their music and their unique sound. My first exposure to them was “A Fire Through the Dark,” the intro track of last year’s “The Immortal, The Invisible,” which has remained one of my most listened to post-rock albums over the last year. Each of the 6 tracks were highly creative, sonically brilliant and the perfect blend of post-rock atmosphere meets math-rock fun and intensity. On top of an amazing record, the now 6-piece band is also from Eugene, OR which is a stones throw away from my hometown of Seattle, where indie and grunge still reign supreme and the post-rock scene is somewhat barren. The band is back this year with “Newly Risen, How Bright you Shine” a 5 track 30 minute album released through Oxide Tones earlier this year.
The album opens with “A Light in the Attic,” which has an atmospheric intro that slowly builds up into a powerhouse track. This is a far more mature and well designed track than the opener on the last album, which sucked you in with its amazingly catchy guitar work. “How He Loves // To Sink a Ship” is where the album really begins to pick up steam as it opens strong with the same great guitar work we come to expect from TPOS. The feel is moody and the layered guitar work has never sounded better. Drums remain patient yet integral through the build up, playing their part well until finally they pounce in all their cymbal crashing glory. Perhaps my only complaint in this track is that the cymbals are well hidden in the mix and not loud enough.
The title track is next up and really gives a large sound staging a chance to shine in its opening deep and bassy intro. This is the exact type of relaxing ambient track where you can really just let your mind wander about while guitars roars and drums give marching orders. Just really excellent stuff by the young pacific northwest band. This is the track that really made me realize just how far TPOS has developed their sound. No longer are they trying to blow away their listeners with huge guitar work or overpowering breakdowns. Instead these tracks are way more refined and well-developed that engulfs the listener.
The album goes on to make a natural transition to “Cities Beneath” that begins quick out of the gate. A much more raw guitar layer in this track rises through the lighter layers like a dog on a chain chomping at the bit to be broken free. It’s nice to see that the band hasn’t completely abandoned the more gritty, heavier distortion based guitar work. While this track is the shortest, it’s also the sweetest and has by far my favorite guitar work on the album. Finally the album closes with “With Morning Comes Hope” and at 9 minutes in length it’s the longest track on the album. Beautifully clean guitars set the stage for an epic crescendo inspired build up as drums begin their fateful uphill climb to the peak. Layers pile atop one another as the sound levels begin to build and build and build. I realized that the beautiful soft ambiance at the end of the track is the perfect finish to the album. After trekking upward for over 7 minutes, when it finally reaches the top of the mountain the listener is treated to the beautiful bliss of a fading sunset over all the valleys and peaks the album once climbed over.
I find that this is a more complete album over last year’s effort. That being said, there isn’t one particular song that truly stands out amongst the five tracks. I will always been driven back to their last album by “A Fire Through the Dark,” which is one of my favorite post-rock songs ever. Still I have faith and firmly believe that This Patch of Sky will one day be amongst the giants of the post-rock industry. The craftsmanship in their albums and their mindset to constantly evolve are two key factors that let bands like Sigur Ros and Explosions of the Sky remain at the top of the class. I expect big things in this band’s future. 9/17/12
Available for $5 on bandcamp: http://thispatchofsky.bandcamp.com/