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iLiKETRAiNS: Elegies to Lessons Learnt [DVD] *

Track List

Album Notes

Sometimes the album's name is a dead giveaway for the sound within, and it's certainly true in case of Elegies to Lessons Learnt, which plays like a soundtrack for an intense brooding session. The record is made of ponderously slow rhythms and sparse guitar lines so hypnotic that their gloomy mood is almost hard to notice. The textures swirling in the background multiply and coalesce into the occasional wall of sound, bolstered by pianos, choruses, and strings, but getting there takes patience; meanwhile, the deep and well-articulated but emotionless vocals hover above the fuss, reciting obscure phrases like "Hold back the cavalry" over and over. It's as if the band roped in the disembodied soul of Jim Morrison for the record. If this all sounds like a Post-Rock 101 course as taught by Arab Strap members, well, there's that, but iLiKETRAiNS are at least good enough to have too many influences and avoid sounding like anyone in particular. The songs begin with a Gravenhurst-styled folk-rock drone, plod to psychedelic soundscapes of Isis (not the "end of the world" ones, but those "post-apocalyptic evening drizzle" moments), and culminate in several Godspeed You Black Emperor! spikes. A seamless construction, but not a perfect one: for all the intensity and elaborate song movements, Elegies to Lessons Learnt is short on tension release. The album can be quiet, taut, or dramatic, but it always sounds as if the band is repressing the hysteria, trying to hide it under epic melancholy but not getting away with it. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but it limits the record's use: while much post-rock stuff is good for many kinds of dreaming, Elegies to Lessons Learnt requires the listener to be in a specific mood -- a grim and, indeed, brooding one -- to make an emotional connection. For an evening of existential musings, this is a good fit, but playing Elegies in a lighter mood or on a sunny day is impossible and, more importantly, pointless. ~ Alexey Eremenko



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