All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone
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The long waited fourth studio album from the moody and intense Texas instrumental band Explosions In The Sky. Known for bringing an emotional heft and sense of hope to a usually placid genre, Explosions In The Sky have experienced the kind of meteoric rise in popularity that flies in the face of music industry convention. Their songs run well past a length suitable for radio play or commercial music videos; they avoid performing in LiveNation/Clear Channel venues; they didn't jump to a major label; and they don't sing. They're also the very rare band that fans of Sigur Ros, Sufjan Stevens and My Chemical Romance can all agree on. EITS are not just an anomaly, they're a gateway. Recorded by John Congleton (The Roots, The Mountain Goats) at Pachyderm Studios in rural Minnesota, the album is a massive leap forward, showcasing a broader instrumental range and their most focused, efficient songwriting. Bella Union. 2007.
Sometimes Explosions in the Sky start with a whisper and end with a scream, but on "Birth and Death of the Day", they begin with a scream and proceed into a symphonic odyssey that Aaron Copland might have composed if he'd played electric guitar. Like Copland, EITS are cinematic, but with more kinetic drive than any film--except maybe Koyaanisqatsi--could match. Compositions like "It's Natural to Be Afraid" take you on epic journeys that roar like a Harley Davidson one minute and slip into taut contemplation the next, using the slow-tension build that EITS have perfected. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone was produced by John Congleton, who has worked with lo-fi groups like the Roots and the Mountain Goats. That might explain why the album lacks the atmosphere of EITS's monumental The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place and their Friday Night Lights soundtrack. Instead, they rely even more on the arc of their compositions and the integral twin lead guitar lines that never solo but always drive the songs. They can shift from power-chord aggression to the sound of plucked mandolins in an instant. This is progressive rock for people who weren't even born when prog reigned supreme. It's the sound of King Crimson, transmuted through punk and grunge aesthetics. --John Diliberto
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Top Customer Reviews
And in "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone," it sounds like they're creating the soundtrack to some epic, arty movie, kicking off with a bang and heading into more contemplative territory later on. Robust instrumentation and complex, swirling melodies keep it from ever getting dull or stagnant, despite no lyrics or vocals.
It opens with a bang -- the blaze of rumbly guitar like a car revving. But then it explodes into a ringing expanse of exquisite, soaring instrumentation that sounds like a post-rock orchestra... and quiets down into a gentle, rippling melody in the middle... only to blaze back into a determined, ringing melody, and sink back into a gentle rattling ballad.
It's an epic song, with more mood changes and more "highs" than most albums ever achieve in their entirety. And it segues seamlessly into the moody "Welcome Ghosts," with its blasts of percussion over a gentle melody, and into a string of other songs -- pretty acoustic balladry with explosive climaxes, gentle melodies that trickle like water.
It ends with both kinds of music: the tightly wound, upward-spiralling "Catastrophe and the Cure." And the finale is as intimate as the opener was epic, with a tinkly piano and dreamlike riffs smoothly lulling listeners right to the end.
Like any good post-rock album, "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" is just like an exploration sketched out through music -- it has rises and falls, exciting moments, lulling peaceful stretches. If they ever made silent movies again, this would be a brilliant soundtrack for some epic, exquisitely-shot movie.Read more ›
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Their latest studio release, "All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone" is simply the next step in the maturation of the relatively unique sound of this band. The elements that made "The Earth..." so great are still here, and in droves. The guitars remain the protagonisits, with Munaf Rayani, Mark Smith, and Michael James at the helm. The melody is rarely held by a single instrument, and rarely, if ever, reaches into the territory of a solo. Often, all three will play distinct parts, with varied rhythms, that somehow manage to coalesce into a cohesive whole. Reaching, dreamy riffs that bend and collapse into themselves, often dueling between the right and left channels, serve as a propellant into reflective, sparse arrangements that ache with the energy that served to reach that plateau. Much of the intense energy found in their music can be attributed to the phenomenal drum work of Chris Hrasky. He seems to have an innate gift for knowing how to fill the entire work with a sense of longing, and yet having. Also, new to the Explosions sound, is the addition of piano work on the latter half of the record. I was taken a bit aback at first, but on several listens, the work would be incomplete without it.
The production is sparse, yet highly adequate. The record was produced by John Congleton, who is know for his lo-fi work, yet the album still twitches with atmosphere not present in his other work. The sound is simple, almost unadulterated save for the effect pedals, with no apparent studio sheen. He does exactly what I would hope a man producing EITS would do, and that is get out of the way and let their music speak for itself. In that, his work in this record is a complete success.
To those who write this off as being stagnant, and having a lack of innovation, I say so what? If Explosions had re-invented themselves and made anything else, I for one would have been inconsolably disappointed. This stands as a work on its own, not to be judged in relationships to the band's previous work. Explosions newcomers and long-time fans alike will both appreciate this record; the band following a similar formula as they have in the past does not make this music any less beautiful, heartbreaking, and uplifting.
I imagine it must be difficult for the band to come up with titles for their tracks and records, but they always somehow manage to be meaningful without sounding trite. The titles fit the mood superlatively, yet are deceptively melancholy. One might read the album and track titles and mistake this as a sad-core record, which couldn't be further from the truth. This is an album filled with hope, longing and beauty. True, it may be born out of melancholy, but that only serves as the foundation for a tower of hope. This could almost be a novella, beginning with the crashing first moments of "The Birth and Death of the Day," meandering through various heights and depths, and emerging triumphant with "So Long, Lonesome." Even the album title mixes joy with loneliness, assuming that there is an event that, in an instant, transfigures the mind, and makes one long for things familiar. At its best moments, this music has the capability to do exactly that.
Now, praise aside, I will admit that this is not their best work. Compared to their previous material, especially the beyond-stunning "The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place", this is just a good album, not a mind-blowing masterpiece, and I don't think I'd have had quite the same initial reaction to the band, had I heard this first. The songs are a bit shorter, which I suppose could potentially make it more accessible to some, but at the same time, the melodies just don't quite draw me in quite like they have before. On "The Earth...", the songs are all in the 8-10 minute range, but they're so riveting and enveloping, I don't even notice. Here, they're more in the 4-6 minute range, and they don't quite feel like they have as much time to unfold, and really do their thing. But make no mistake, the mesmerizing guitar melodies are still very much there. Plus, there are a few surprises, such as some slightly louder moments of distortion here and there, as well as some very nice piano, which fits in perfectly.
Overall, I'd recommend this album to fans, but not to newcomers. It's very good, but they've done better. Check out their early albums first, and then you'll decide if you want this. But chances are, you probably will.
(Oh, and great cover art, as well. I'm a sucker for cool packaging.)
But does a genre or a band need to grow in order to stay vital? It should seem so, since boredom is the enemy for most discerning listeners, but All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone finds the Texas quartet towering so highly above their peers that the lack of progression hardly matters. Six years after first breaking out, Explosions in the Sky remain on the A-list precisely because they haven't strayed from their patented formula, and why should they? In their self-contained universe, evolution doesn't occur over the course of multiple albums; it happens as we listen, and we return to their music because each song presents a drama in miniature, with meditative lows and exultant highs, and because the stories they tell tremble with emotion that never feels feigned or forced.
Finding differences between All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone and the group's previous two outings is tough, but they're there if you care to look. The sonic building blocks are much the same as on The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place--high-pitched, ringing guitars and stately drums with lots of snare--but this is a more tumultuous record, warding off criticism the band may have suffered for supposedly going soft. "The Birth and Death of the Day" sets the scene perfectly, beginning with a skyward scream before settling down and rising again in a march that feels custom-fitted for a film score. As the intensity builds and the band rocks out for the first time, one can easily picture--literally--explosions in the sky. At the same time, there are few outright surprises; while Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever knocked the blocks out from under our feet at any moment, we can see the climaxes on this album coming a mile away. It's a technique that had me yawning initially, then ultimately taking comfort in the familiarity of these lovely, well-spun tales.
So, then, what's it all about? Explosions in the Sky deal in cautious optimism in an era when most rock musicians think that anything optimistic is lame. The pre-Sept. 11 Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die was oblique and destructive; the post-Sept. 11 The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place was blindingly radiant and uplifting--understandable since, in 2003, many of us in America badly needed succor. If All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone has a message, it's that a little faith in humanity isn't going to save the world, but that's no reason to give up. "What Do You Go Home To?" and "Catastrophe and the Cure" begin with impending doom that, by the end, has vanished in favor of harmoniousness and redemption. "It's Natural to be Afraid" lays out its problems before blasting them away in a cloud of heavy, major-key guitar and crashing cymbals. That these "message tracks" are completely free of words testifies to how instrumental music can speak for itself when it's put into just the right hands.
With All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, I'm now more convinced than ever that the knee-jerk comparison to Godspeed You! Black Emperor isn't going to work anymore. Both bands specialize in tension-and-release instrumental rock, their songs often exceed 10 minutes and they exhibit a grandmother-upsetting range of volumes. But while Godspeed are open detractors of the United States government, there's something unabashedly American about Explosions in the Sky, in a national anthem sort of way. When they were asked to score Friday Night Lights (a film about a Texas high school football team), many fans took it as a slap in the face, believing that setting music to celluloid meant that it couldn't stand alone, but the pairing now makes perfect sense. Like an epic American film, this music sweeps us up with grand gestures and shows us hope amid destruction. We know exactly how it's going to end--the good guys will win and conflicts will be resolved--and that's just fine.
The band uses distorted guitar sounds, feedback, various background percussion, beautiful piano melodies, high pitched guitar plucking, shredding power chords, and mixes it all together with climactic build-ups and tempo changes to tell a story through beautifully arranged soundscapes. While it seems that people classify this type of music as 'post-rock' I think that term can be confusing and misleading. This album rocks a lot more than a band like Sigur Ros and is more technical than a band like Pelican - some of the beats are so uptempo and the twin guitar leads so catchy that you can't help but sometimes get into the groove. The progressive nature of the song structures put these guys in a class of their own.
RECOMMENDATION: Unless you are a diehard fan then save yourself money and stick with the original album.
With that said, 'All of a Sudden...' just doesn't seem to ever go above and beyond. 'Explosions' are one of those bands that have, 'till now, maintained a consistency that made it impossible for me to say which of their discs is my favorite; while that question still remains unanswerable, I can in fact say without doubt this is my least beloved.
I hate to say it, but the thing most lacking here is melody; the songs are towering epics, indeed, but most of them seem scattered and, ultimately, lost. Especially when compared to the blunt, crescendoing direction the songs on 'Earth...' took, the unpredictable course many of the songs here make with is disappointing; while they seem confidently whimsical and strangely at ease with their seeming disorder, things just don't come together more often than not. It's so disappointing, too, because when things do gel, the music soars beautifully (ten minutes into "It's Natural To Be Afraid", for example -- my favorite track on the disc).
A double edged sword -- the incalculable nature of 'All of a Sudden...' that the bands' predecessors lacked is admirably ambitious, and what makes the album a distinct experience even among the many "Explosion-isms" that still exist. Musically, though, that tact just isn't fulfilled to its potential, and so amongst the generally inspired sound is a result that sounds almost half-baked. Consequently, there's also less thought and feeling, to my mind, than all but the band's debut 'How Strange, Innocence'; while there are hints of the heart that permeated all through 'Earth..' and 'Those Who Tell the Truth...', it's dissected all too often by the staggering current of musical ideas.
The whole thing is still pretty, for sure, but it's not the type of beautiful that will stay in memory over long periods of time. There are individual moments of glory that rival anything the band's wrote, but they come in spades, and so the album never grabs hold as tight as those before it.