To Sail Beyond the Sun – Illusions EP

Illusions EP cover art

Artist To Sail Beyond the Sun
Album ‘Illusions’
Genre Post-rock
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label Independent
Release Feb 6 2013
Rating Solid

With one look at their bandcamp descriptor (“To Sail Beyond the Sun is a post-rock band from New York. That’s all that you really need to know. Sit back and enjoy.”), it’s safe to say that To Sail Beyond the Sun are a post-rock band free from pretentious or avant-garde pressures and values. It’s quite a relief to come across a band that, rather than proclaiming some transcendent or high-concept agenda, just makes music to be enjoyed for what it is. And what it is is just darn lovely music. Though an EP, ‘Illusions’ is a fairly generous offering, with five tracks (each with a duration of around four minutes) that move through beautiful crescendoes and soundscapes. Some songs feature understated yet delicate vocals, coming from a lead singer whose voice sounds somewhat similar to the Gates vocalist’s at times (albeit slightly more controlled, pitch-wise), or even Benjamin Gibbard; while others meander through bright-sounding instrumental terrains. This is all music that’s rather pretty and pleasing to the ear; like New Century Classics‘Natural Process’ but with a more full and triumphant sound owed to the welcomed use of brass instrumentation. Another strong comparison can be made with Years of Rice and Salt‘s 2011 breakthrough album ‘Nothing of Cities’. You’ll want to blast this out come summer-time.

One gripe with this album — and it is a minor one — is that the drums are noticeably overpowering compared with the rest of the instruments. The drum-work itself is delightfully confident and well-suited to the style of music, but their extreme prominence in the foreground renders the drums as an annoyance rather than a well-integrated component of the music. This EP also doesn’t break much new ground — comparisons are all too easy, as I showed above. Regardless, ‘Illusions’ is definitely worth your time, especially if you’re a fan of the more joyous post-rock sound.