Release Date: May 2, 2011
Record label: Richter Collective
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Post-Rock
Written and recorded in a matter of weeks, ASIWYFA obviously work amazingly under pressure... Written and recorded in a matter of weeks, following a terrifying last-minute decision to scrap an entire album’s worth of material, it’s to And So I Watch You From Afar’s eternal credit that not one second of ‘Gangs’ could possibly be mistaken for a rush job. In fact, the self-imposed time restraints have merely served to sharpen the quartet’s focus in quite glorious fashion.
Truly, there’s never been a more clear or concise way to describe Belfast four-piece …And So I Watch You From Afar than as a 'gang. ' As anyone who bears witness to their live show can testify, theirs is a synergy, an understanding that binds so strongly together that in their frantic motion - with limbs thrashing instruments like birch on flesh - it forces the resulting sound to rise taut and athletic, a monstrous proposition that has to be so in order to meet its makers head-on in masculine conflict. There are enough opportunities to see this as well; ASIWYFA remain a gang in a true sense too, a band who tour out of necessity, playing well over 100 dates per year, their sustained intimacy bleeding into their music.
Between the release of And So I Watch You from Afar's 2008 debut and the recording of the follow-up, Gangs, the Portrush instrumental rockers toured the world, from Europe across Russia as far east as Japan, and all the way across to the West Coast of the U.S. The scale and scope of their undertaking -- and the effect it had upon their outlook -- is clear in the sound of the album, which is weightier and more abrasive than its predecessor. It's clear even in the song titles, from the awe-stricken "7 Billion People All Alive at Once" (a milestone finally achieved a week before the album's U.S.
2011 has been a banner year for post-rock. Two of the year’s finest releases, Mogwai’s Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will and Russian Circles’ Empros, are some of the strongest releases the genre has seen in awhile. Those records are particularly refreshing given that some bands tend to stagnate after awhile in the post-rock formula of crescendo and decrescendo.
ASIWYFA prove that the loud and voiceless do not have to sound ineloquent. Brad Barrett 2011 As important to any album where maximum volume is its central theme is its punctuation. With no vocal lines to emphasise dynamics, Belfast quartet And So I Watch You From Afar have excelled at pushing riffs or motifs to their logical centre stage; a place where few dare to tread in fear of exhausting their audience.
The idea that post-rock had to lean toward the mellow, the slow build, and the tough sell was exploded in the mid-Aughts by Ratatat, a New York band with all the subtlety of a synthesizer jackknifing into a Flying V. Now come antecedents And So I Watch You From Afar, a Belfast, Ireland, band with drastically maximalist instincts that pummel instead of persuade. Second CD Gangs spins an enormously wrought piece of work that finally matches the band's inflated aspirations with production values.