Echotide – As Our Floodlights Gave Way to Dawn – 98%

Australia has been a great source for post/math-rock in recent years, with bands such as sleepmakeswaves, Meniscus, This Is Your Captain Speaking and Tangled Thoughts of Leaving all finding critical acclaim and recognition world-wide. Echotide, from Brisbane, is the latest band to join the ranks. With its meandering trajectory and atmospheric explorations, ‘As Our Floodlights Gave Way to Dawn’ is one of the most interesting and enthralling post-rock releases of 2012.

Echotide have been described as a piano-led post-rock band. This is true — to which the intro of the first track will attest — but it might also give entirely the wrong impression as to what to expect from this album. ‘As Our Floodlights Gave Way to Dawn’ is not as bright or particularly pretty an album as some piano-fronted post-rock bands tend to make (Not to Reason Why, for example, should not be compared with Echotide). Beyond its welcoming piano melody, “Of Addictions” introduces us to some of the aggressive elements of Echotide‘s sonic palette, with its rising crescendo of guttural guitar riffs and crash-heavy drumming. This opening track is a decent enough song, sharing likenesses to bands such as pg.lost, Beware of Safety and perhaps to some extent ISIS. “Of Addictions” is far from the best that this album has to offer, however; and besides, before long it becomes apparent that Echotide are not really about the “song” at all — they are about the experience; the journey. This may seem clichéd a notion when describing post-rock or progressive rock bands; but in actuality, few bands of this ilk sew the seems quite as smoothly or satisfyingly as Echotide do. Between each crescendo or climax sit minutes upon minutes of suspenseful lulls and calms-after-storms. In some instances these take the form of simple-yet-mournful ambient swells. In others we’re introduced to lonesome and scene-setting samples and field recordings. Echotide explore all of the corners around each song; turning stones that lesser bands might have ignored entirely. Each lengthy transition builds upon the foundations set before it, until an atmosphere is crafted so dense that you might lose yourself in it. Perhaps this unhurried approach can be accredited to the five long years spent crafting this album. Without an impatient label or fanbase clamoring for their next fix, Echotide have had the time to let their music expand in an organic nature, and it’s certainly paid off.

This isn’t to say that the tracks themselves are nothing without their wandering transitions. “3mwy (Of Hope)” is a catchy and gloriously uplifting song that would be a competent candidate for a post-rock “single”; and “Embers Glow” demonstrates some of the more beautiful and intricate uses of classical strings in a post-rock crescendo since Yndi Halda or even Godspeed You! Black Emperor were hot on the scene. This is undoubtedly one of the best albums of the year, or even in years; and is, unfortunately, destined to go unnoticed by most. Don’t make the mistake of passing this up.

Pay what you want on bandcamp: http://echotide.bandcamp.com/

Band facebook: http://www.facebook.com/echotide