Guideline Records (label)
01 December 2022 (released)
14 January 2022
There is little doubt that Chicago has become a major hub in the world of post-rock. With two of the genre's strongest acts, Russian Circles and Pelican hailing from the Windy City one has to wonder what is in the water there to inspire such sprawling, breath-taking music. These transportive scores conjure haunting, foggy, castle-filled European hills or the towering cliffs that meet the pummelling wrath of an angry sea. Not the manufacturing and transportation hub of America's midwest. And yet the scene thrives, continuing to pump out some of the world's best atmospheric rock. Perhaps it's a drive for escapism that prompts these artists to create such vast otherworldly soundscapes.
The Color of Cyan continues this legacy with their latest release Agape. Their fusion of shoegaze and metal, ambient and orchestral creates a dense cloud of altered consciousness to envelop the listener. Like a meditation or hypnosis, the subject is drawn into an environment that suspends the nuts and bolts reality of daily living to take them to a certain kind of dream state. Agape offers moments of monumental heft swirling in a whirlpool of rampant delay and reverb.
The layers build with measured pacing as 'Inception' introduces the nine-movement piece. Chords form and dissipate with a warm bass undertone coming in to support the sonorous upper strings. Not a drum to be heard until the opening track gives way to 'Summer Days' and even then drummer Henry Cole holds off another three minutes before making his crushing entrance. Slow crescendos are the name of the game. The group takes after genre progenitors Isis (the band), employing extreme levels of patience to build a wave that pays off with great satisfaction. 'Little Stars' follows in delicate procession scoring a cosmic night sky. The band's moves are delicate and subtle creating a multitude of mini swells, swirling the mind to get lost in its lack of comprehension of the magnitude of the universe.
The album's behemoth 'Sun in Leo' stretches near ten minutes, unfolding in successive cascading layers. Halfway through we're treated to a transcendent bass break by Jorge Santana. The low-end man fingerpicks a beautiful rolling, evolving line over a light, hanging drone. The band joyfully joins him in a triumphant peak that elicits a long slow headbang through to the end of this mammoth track. 'Moon in Cancer' gives the listener an appropriate respite. Gentle arpeggios act like small ripples on a full moon-lit lake. The violin of Rene Torres ebbs and flows bringing a wistful elegance to the piece.
The album's biggest banger 'The Day We Met' cuts sharply the serenity of 'Moon in Cancer'. The heavy-handed snare and guitarist Eduardo Cintron's earnest strumming make this gargantuan track slap hard. The title track sums up the album's moods finding its way from tranquil shimmering guitar that recalls life's tender moments to a grandiose throwdown finale that highlights the blood, sweat, and tears needed to climb life's mountains. This penultimate track gets it all out.
Agape is an ingenious showcase of scoring prowess and tasteful musicality. The band flow completely seamlessly with one another, shifting moods in a way that allows the listener to truly get lost in the music. Cliches be damned! A gorgeous album that proves that great post-rock is pushing the envelope of what textural music can achieve.