Release Date: Apr 1, 2016
Record label: Temporary Residence
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock, Post-Rock, Soundtracks, Stage & Screen, Instrumental Rock
As with any Explosions in the Sky record, it’s difficult to arrive at the right words. The adjective palette feels curiously lacking, similes are out of reach. Facts we can do – the band’s sixth (non-soundtrack) album, the nine tracks present are a little in duration compared to what came before – yet beyond that, the post-rock descriptive framework sees the beatific auspices and sheer attention to detail behind The Wilderness undersold.
While Explosions In The Sky’s soundtrack work has seen them create music tailored for drama, their non-soundtrack work continues to have the ability to inspire drama to accompany music. Their songs are imbued with a narrative aura that structures and organises, and which is capable of lending dramatic significance to even the most mundane of activities. Put Explosions In The Sky on in the background, and balling your socks will seem like the most fragile, human action you have ever performed.
Review Summary: A thrilling and bold expedition out of the ordinary and into the unknown.Explosions In The Sky isn’t exactly a band that strikes joy into the heart of every post-rock aficionado anymore, and it has nothing to do with the band’s talent level. After all, nobody questions that these guys can play, and some of the crescendos that they’ve crafted over the years will stand tall as historical examples of the heights to which the genre can aspire. The problem, recently anyway, has been a perceived lack of imagination.
Explosions in the Sky's sixth album is one that surpasses everything that came before. Audacious statement but if you thought music like The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place couldn't be topped or rivaled, then think again. The Wilderness is as dense and emotionally powerful as you could have hoped for. It honours what they did in the past but feels like a step forward into a new sunrise.Whether you're freaking out over them on the Street Fighter 'Rise Up' promo or recalling how they soundtracked 'Friday Night Lights', by the time you're done here, it's clear they're ushering a new era.
Inner and outer space are fully explored. Despite a name that suggests far more violence than is actually on show, Texan post-rockers Explosions In The Sky have fashioned an intriguingly lush album that may well stand as their best yet..
"This is something really quite special." The beauty of EITS records is rooted in their transportive power. They sweep you up, strap you in and take you someplace else, making you fruitlessly reach for corny, pretentious words when really, there is no shorthand for the emotions stirred by the instrumental Texan quartet.And album seven is no different, revealing fresh layers, scope, strengths and delicacies with each return journey. ‘The Wilderness’ is the perfect title, too; the album’s nine songs exploring an expansive, evocative range of sounds, grooves, peaks and valleys.
Having spent the last few years wandering around in the wilderness writing soundtracks for Prince Avalanche, Lone Survivor and Manglehorn, Explosions In The Sky have come in from the cold. Whilst they appear much the same on the surface, there have been a few changes to the band whose last studio album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care came out in 2011. When the door that graced the cover of that album slammed shut, it seemed possible, in the light of their soundtrack work that they’d never head back to that cabin in the woods again.
Texan four-piece Explosions in the Sky have developed an international cult following as their post-rock instrumentals have appeared everywhere from film soundtracks to TV trailers. However, drummer Chris Hrasky recently quipped that the last fate the band want for their sixth album is for it to accompany “rousing sports montages”. It’s unlikely, as the band have taken a detour from trademark glacial beauty into more pensive, sinister terrain.
For their first non-soundtrack work in five years, Texan instrumental rock quartet Explosions in the Sky have made a slight departure from the cinematic crescendo-core they've become famous for since making their debut in the early 2000s. Unlike the majority of their previous studio full-lengths, The Wilderness doesn't contain any songs that approach the ten-minute mark. It seems like the immediacy of the group's film scores has helped guide the group's direction, and the electronic experimentation of Inventions (EitS member Mark T.
Explosions in the Sky are the kind of band that you think about in terms of scale. There is the sheer size of their songs, but also of the group: They've sold out Radio City Music Hall and play larger concert halls (which is surprising for a rock band without a vocalist); they famously soundtracked "Friday Night Lights," a number of motion pictures, and their songs shows up on dozens of television shows. But their sixth album, The Wilderness, the first non-soundtrack collection since 2011's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, feels remarkably small.
The world was a very different place in 2001 when Explosions In the Sky dropped their second record, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever, amid a wave of controversy. Although it was officially released on 4 September 2001, rumours circulated suggesting the album (whose cover depicts a plane, with the caption, ‘This plane will crash tomorrow’) was released on 10 September just before the attacks on the World Trade Centre and conspiracy theories ensued. Of course the band always strenuously denied the absurd claims.
The decision by a band to go without a vocalist will lead to either disaster or a determination to avoid redundancy. It’s the measure of separating wheat from chaff with instrumental bands. Add to that the fact that most bands live and die by the growth and maturity of their music. While niche music is a bit safer from this sort of unspoken principle, stagnation is still just one recycled riff away.
“All due respect to Explosions in the Sky,” Russian Circles bassist Brian Cook told Ghost Cult in 2013, “But I just can’t listen to the countless knock-offs they’ve generated. It’s like, I get it, you have a delay pedal and you know how to play a minor scale on the guitar. Do something more with the formula.” Although marquee post-rock names like Explosions in the Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have held up well in the past decade, the state of post-rock overall is one of copy-and-paste crescendoes and guitar leads.
It has been five years since the release of Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, Explosions in the Sky's last non-soundtrack album. (Working on the films Prince Avalanche, Lone Survivor, and Manglehorn kept the group plenty busy in the interim.) Now, a full 16 years since the Texas-bred quartet made its debut with How Strange, Innocence, The Wilderness marks a true-to-form refinement of the band's signature sound. It remains inherently easy to become lost in Explosions in the Sky's absorbing and ambient world, one defined by a visceral electronic pulse that piques the senses and has a way of making everything else fall away.
"Tangled In A Dream." "Disintegration Anxiety," "Losing the Light." Explosions in the Sky songs might not have lyrics but it's never hard to tell where they're coming from. The expansive Texas band's instrumental indie-rock sound-sculpting is wrought from a sense of somber apprehension and drift, of possibility coming into focus or perhaps losing it, or both at once. In the five years since their last album, Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, they've been focused on soundtrack work.
Over the past decade, Explosions in the Sky have consistently crafted music resembling an Americanized, "get to the point" version of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, all triumphant crescendos but no field recordings or dissonant veering. The band's triumphant, monolithic rockers led to a series of acclaimed records, the soundtrack to Friday Night Lights, and plenty of other appearances in the backgrounds of films, TV episodes and video games. Since their last LP, 2011's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care, Explosions have worked on several more film soundtracks, and their experiences with shorter compositions have resulted in The Wilderness, their seventh proper record and first with an outside producer (the prolific, eccentric John Congleton).
Long the preserve of BBC nature documentaries and inspiring American TV montages, Explosions In The Sky settled into those comfy cotton slipper-socks in recent years. A series of soundtrack releases their sole output for years, ‘The Wilderness’ marks their first wholly original material in half a decade – a chance to refresh the palette, iron out the kinks and hit the ground running on another potential two decades of genre supremacy. To paraphrase their most famous (and undoubtedly most lucrative) soundtracking client: clear eyes, full hearts… can’t lose? Lead single ‘Disintegration Anxiety’ paints a fitting first impression.
The Wilderness opens quietly, like early morning light, a mother's gentle hand rocking you awake in a childhood bedroom – sleepy, muffled first moments that are new but somehow familiar. Austin's Explosions in the Sky have mastered that feeling dozens of times over across their 17-year career. Tapping into visceral moments of humanity through cinematic instrumentals, the local quartet has spent its vaunted discography constructing expansive, emotional soundscapes.
Explosions In The Sky have always been the first to anticipate their own predictability. Even as their unmistakable ‘sad, triumphant rock band’ method, established from their outset and cemented with The Earth is Not a Cold Dead Place in 2003 spread further into the public consciousness with each passing episode of the television adaptation Friday Night Lights, their first sparks of a desire for reinvention were flying upward. The great inertia that The Earth generated, however, has proved more easily adapted to rather than overcome.
Over the course of six albums, Austin post-rock pioneers Explosions In The Sky has developed and mastered a style that puts the band in a perilous position in 2016. The members know what works, with their Friday Night Lights film soundtrack shining a light on the cinematic capabilities of their instrumentals. Huge emotional payoffs, soaring climaxes, songs that take their time to reach a peak but never deny a payoff: these are the band’s trademarks.
FOR A BAND that has spent the better half of two decades split between studio albums and movie soundtracks, a title like The Wilderness seemed inevitable, if not overdue. At some point or another, Explosions in the Sky have conveyed every superlative that nature has to offer. They can conjure serenity and terror in the same bar; the majestic and the microscopic; the sublime and the subliminal; the organic, the orogenic, the ordinary.