I had not really paid attention to Waking Aida until they were announced for this year’s ArcTanGent festival. Not their fault, it’s just that there is a lot of music out there and I hadn’t made the time. I made an ArcTanGent playlist in Spotify so they will have hit my ears at some stage, but still no blips on my “this is bloody great music” radar. That was likely to happen to some bands though as the playlist is fourteen and a half hours long and has 171 tracks in it!
So when an email came through with a link to their new video, Glow Coin I didn’t really think too much of it. Then the promo for the album came through…
Do you like Maybeshewill? I do, but can only stomach them for so long. A whole album can get a little tedious. They are really good at doing one thing and that’s about it despite delivering some of the strongest songs in the genre. Well I can tell you that there is definitely some Maybeshewill in this album. You can tell that Jamie Ward from Maybeshewill produced it as there are some very familiar tones coming through the crisp production values. It sounds great.
Do you like And So I Watch You From Afar? I do, I never really rated them until I saw them at last year’s ArcTanGent festival and then I realised that I’d been missing out on what everybody had been telling me for years. Some of the mathy riffs that come through on this album speak to me from ASIWYFA’s camp. Yep, it sounds great.
So what do I think to Waking Aida?
Well I can tell you now that they are fucking brilliant.
The majority of the tracks are between seven and nine minutes long. Each and every one displays a really mature approach to complexity. The arrangements are complex without feeling contrived and they progress, almost effortlessly, from beginning to end without allowing you to lose interest. Of course post-rock albums are prone to being put on and then you find that you have drifted away until the album ends, but that is the nature of the beast.
Giving you a track-by-track review of this album would be absolutely fruitless. It would completely kill the exploration of the music presented to you. On the first play through I was enthralled, but it did not give all of its secrets and I am still finding new parts to that extend my enjoyment of the album. Yes it has elements of each of the name-dropped bands earlier, but it is honestly a more intriguing album than either of those bands has put out. Like those band’s the melodies are infecting, however there is a bigger appreciation of the bigger picture; of the different ways you can go with an idea without ending up with a convoluted mess. Each transition is effortless, some songs feel like they should end, they continue, and then you know that it still has plenty to explore without feeling forced. The first track (ignoring the short intro) Incandenza says, “I am every thing that Waking Aida does so well. I will hook you from the outset. I will take an idea and use other ideas to explore that idea. I will uplift you. I will make you smile. I will make you dance and, although you may look awkward and clumsy, you won’t give a fuck what others think because you don’t have to care. I will put you in the moment and I will give you those chills that make their way down your spine and make you feel like that you should cry, not in sadness, but because you feel something life affirming. I will make you feel alive”
However, less of the pretentiousness, the whole album feels well paced throughout and despite there not being any “classic” crescendos as such the parts can build up upon you unaware; silently preparing you for the next section. Check out This Isn’t Even My Final Form for a wicked example of this.
The more technical math rock riffs seem to have a real purpose rather than being a place for boasting skills. All the members get their place to shine amongst the diamonds just listen to the bass in How To Build A Space Station; those lines are magnificent.
Overall this is a really fun album. You can’t tell me that Time Travelling With Friends, especially, doesn’t put a smile on your face with it’s quirky guitar lines and percussion; it gives as much joy as any ASIWYFA album ever has.
The best way to really sum up how I feel about this album is to listen to the Sarah Kay quote used as a sample in Incandenza. That is exactly how this album makes me feel.
Summer is here and Waking Aida is your soundtrack to it. Do not miss it.