Shy, Low – Binary Opposition

Binary Opposition cover art

Artist Shy, Low
Album ‘Binary Opposition’
Genre Post-Rock
Buy/DL Bandcamp
Web Facebook
Label The Subterranea Collective | Fluttery Records
Release Feb 23 2013
Rating Excellent

Richmond, VA has always been a hotbed of musical activity, and I’ve been lucky enough to live in close enough proximity to experience a lot of it. The bulk of the music coming out of the city, however, has been hardcore, punk, and metal (at least that’s what was on my radar), so when I first discovered Shy, Low sometime last year and found out that they hail from Richmond, I was pleasantly surprised. Not that geographical location has much to do with anything, but when a band like this emerges out of a city that’s probably best known for Gwar, Avail, and Lamb of God, it makes you take notice. Anyway, enough rambling about where the band lives, since ultimately it doesn’t matter much.

While I suppose this release is technically an EP, the two songs on here far surpass anything on last year’s self-titled album in length, with both clocking in at over 12 minutes long. Between the length and density of the two tracks, it definitely doesn’t feel like an EP, though. There’s more than enough layers here to make every second of this record truly interesting, and it’s a very engaging listen. While all of the ideas and techniques here are very similar to the ones present on their last release, Shy, Low has definitely progressed as a band. The comparisons to bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Mono will come, and are warranted, but I feel like Shy, Low have taken those influences and crafted something that’s just a bit different from the copycat bands. Along with a handful of other bands, like their neighbors to the south in The Farewell Monument, Shy, Low is a great representation of a newer breed of cinematic/orchestral post-rock bands, and ‘Binary Opposition‘ is an incredible well crafted display of that.

The various effects and layers of reverb used by the band give everything a truly massive sound (thanks in no small part to what the band refers to as guitarist Gregg Peterson’s “personal stage”, his collection of various effects pedals), and at times, it’s very easy to forget that something that sounds so huge was written and recorded by just 4 people. This is apparent almost everywhere on ‘Binary Opposition‘, but it really shines starting at about the 6:30 mark on the second track, “Absence“. The layers of guitars just seem to keep piling up, showcasing some masterful work by Peterson and his fellow guitarist, Zak Bryant. The rhythm section of Shy, Low is certainly not lacking in talent either, and that’s made very clear moments later in the same song. As the guitars build back up, drummer Sean Doody pounds out a driving, almost menacing drum line, accompanied by the low end rumbling of Ian Currie’s bass work.

While ‘Binary Opposition’ may not feel like an EP, you quickly realize how fast the nearly 25 minutes of music have passed, and are left wanting more. If there’s one down side to this release, it’s just that. Now, you can also look at the flip side of that, and understand that Shy, Low has created a record so good that you’re left wanting more, which is exactly the stance I’m taking on it. So while I patiently await more new music from these guys (give them a break, they just released this like a month ago), I’ll definitely have ‘Binary Opposition‘ in heavy rotation.