Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Review: The Autumn Project - This We Take With Us (2009, Zu Records)


The Autumn Project is a trio from Des Moines, Iowa, playing post-rock. The name used to serve Mike Gustafson (drums, keyboards, textures) for his solo output, and now serves the trio, consisting of brothers Jess (guitar) and John Huffman (baritone guitar, bass). While starting in 2000, their first release, Fable, was in 2003 and reissued in 2005. In 2004 they released La Luna de Negra and in 2006 A Burning Light. Here I review their 2009 release, This We Take With Us.

Read review after the Jump

Where have I heard this before? It sounds familiar; wide epic guitar riffs with a nice touch of keyboards to enhance the richness of sound, escalating swirling theme, reaching a peak. I’ve heard this in the works of Godspeed You Black Emperor! And Explosions In The Sky. But much like I love the works of Sparrows Sing and Swarm, who are what some may call clones (of Godspeed You Black Emperor that is), I find this work by The Autumn Project to be somewhat derivative (if not more in tracks 1 and 2), but very well executed and also a great joy to listen to.

Listening to the first track on their album, This We Take With Us, I could have mistaken it for an Explosions In The Sky piece. This is the danger of this shores; walking in others steps (or closely following it). But as the album goes on, I got more and more absorbed into it and could discern more of their own personality in the music, more of their passion. There are some instances where I was thinking of Russian Circles, due to the powerful nature and aggressiveness of the music (track 6 for example). The musicianship is well accomplished, the music sounds great, the atmosphere and themes captivating; and if you could settle for that, it is fine. I could enjoy the album for what it is.
So allow me to try and do justice to the album by stopping to compare it to previous bands, I think you get the picture.

There are 8 pieces on this album, flowing quite naturally from one on to the next. The music is powerful emotionally, moving and beautiful. There’s not so much development of themes, more of creating one and thriving on it for a while, and then changing things a bit, by adding more components, alternating a bit the rhythm or other kinds of manipulations which all go well and eventually reaching an emotional peak. There is also aggressiveness in here; not the raw mindless sort, but a purely emotional type, where all instruments get as loud as they can and indulge in the moment (tracks 3 and 4 for instance). In this sense, this is a very powerful album, one that is best heard at high volume, and one that could energize one’s spirit. There is such intensity in the music and all 3 musicians seem to invest their entirety into it, every ounce of energy they have. It’s comes crushing down, pummeling the listener of his comfortable listening position. In this sense, they go beyond the intensity of other bands in this style and match up with the brutality of Russian Circles.
Their sound is a little “dirty” if you can follow my meaning. And it sits very well with their sound and what they are out to create and the atmosphere they are after.

Their music, as I mentioned above, is epic in a way, not only due to the length of the pieces here, but also due to their structure being grand, massive and the way it surrounds me as I listen it. That is what I want an album to do; drown me or absorb me into it. The Autumn succeeds in that, and so I can’t speak badly of an album like that.

The Autumn Project - New Record Trailer

THE AUTUMN PROJECT | Myspace Music Videos

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