The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place

Explosions In The Sky

Independent release, 2003

REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg


First let me just say that I can’t think offhand of a band whose name better expresses what they sound like than Explosions In The Sky. Their sound is that big and airy, that surprising, and that beautiful in an otherworldly, can’t-quite-believe-what-my-senses-are-telling-me way.

The music made by this Texas quartet is moody, spacy, dynamic instrumental rock. Is it shoegaze? Too heavy on the guitars for that, I would think. Is it prog? Maybe kinda sorta? Certainly, the five tracks on this disc run from eight to ten minutes apiece and are complex, multi-faceted compositions. But the sound is more like my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Unforgettable Fire-era U2, except that you wait and wait and wait for the verse-chorus structure and Bono’s voice to kick in, and they never do.

Instead the big, trembly, echoey guitars and martial drums and layered, arcing-skyward riffs just keep on keeping on as “First Breath After Coma” opens out from its quiet start, continually morphing, moving from soft and delicate to loud and dynamic, and back again. Vignette after vignette, track after track, moments of quiet contemplation are followed by moments of transcendent power, and vice versa. Some of the gentler and more lyrical passages remind me a bit of Close To The Edge-era Yes, but the heavier sections are indisputably the work of big-time fans of The Edge and Daniel Lanois.

I’m afraid at this point that I’m going to violate one of my cardinal rules as Daily Vault editor, though, and not talk about any more individual songs. It’s almost impossible to, since these aren’t so much songs as soundscapes, concertos for electric guitars, bass and drum kit, with sections and movements and crescendos and diminuendos that flow into one another like melting glaciers.

For sure, what this sort of music accomplishes is to fire the imagination. As the melodies meander, building on a single riff, exploring and exploding and then falling back to take a fresh angle, you get a picture in your mind of four guys in a room simply reacting to one another in the moment, making music in the most organic way possible. Chances are I’m completely wrong about the process, of course, but regardless, that’s what the end result sounds like.

Having learned of Explosions In The Sky from my favorite music blogger in the www (whole webbed world), I chose this album from among the group’s six discs based mostly on its evocative title. No regrets here for taking the leap; this album is like a six-pack of Red Bull for the imagination.

Rating: A-

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