Contrary to popular belief, operating a full time music endeavor isn’t the most easy or practical thing in the world. It’s time consuming, a money pit and most crucially of all, requires monumental amounts of effort. With that in mind it’s no surprise that many emerging acts can’t fulfill their dreams due to the practicalities and restrictions that life places upon all of us. It’s a sad reality, with many a promising talent being subdued to external circumstances.
One such band who were forced to call a hiatus where the Bristol based duo The Blood Choir, an act who combined many an artistic influence within their haunting and unique 2012 debut No Windows To The Old World. Despite all odds and contrary to the geological placements of members, with the duo being situated in the south west and Northern Denmark respectively, the project are back with their sophomore release, Houses Of The Sun. An album that is one of both familiarity and foreignness, triumphant and despondent, and soothing and ominous.
Essentially, Houses Of The Sun builds upon the foundations their debut constructed. A conventional post-rock ethos and ideology is omnipresent within the release, but there’s elements, structures and cues of noise-pop, cold industrial and Scandinavian scented ambience. It’s a record that see’s the duo sift through a plethora of influences and styles and closely scrutinising them before weaving them into a beautiful tapestry that’s so much more than the sum of it’s parts. In theory, some of the influences and stylistic combinations shouldn’t fuse or interlace due to their starkly differing contrasts and contradictory nature. However, no such disparity is present. This may be in part to the record being a more reserved and withdrawn affair, with grandiose and towering structures of experimentation being subsided by more quieter, serene and restrained passages.
The opener and respective title track sets the blanketing tone of the record, with resonating and reverb laden industrial guitars rising above a cloud of steel ambience. Marred with the beautiful, yet ominous vocals of Robin Maddicott, the track paints a portrait of urban callousness mixed with surreal beauty. Such a sentiment is expanded upon with the soothing and stripped back piano motifs of ‘Cold Waves’ and the industrial and gothic dance of ‘The Boat’. It’s a record that’s paradoxically soothing and cathartic, luring the listening in with it’s calming tendencies whilst simultaneously hinting at something devastating looming just over the horizon. However, that release that never arrives, and in all honesty, it’s a positive. Houses Of The Sun excels in creating possibly unintentional tension and pressure through it’s ominous soundscapes and providing release or grandiose structures would remove such pressure, tipping the balance. The closest it comes to releasing such pressure is through the claustrophobic, nightmarish and terrifying shrieking synths of Simon’s Beach, but even then such a track only adds volumes to the tension.
It may be a cliched statement, but Houses Of The Sun demands to be listened to in full length and order. There’s a distincgtive lack of conventional pop sensibilities with each track standing as a chapter in a novel; to listen to a track without previous knowledge of the last or understanding of what’s to come would be misguided. With this in mind, this record isn’t for everyone and yet nor it should be. With it’s purist structure, quiet nature and progressive and intricate elements, Houses Of The Sun is a reverbing and resonating journey though soothing landscapes that bring forth both fear and reflection.