Canyons of Static: Farewell Shadows
Oxide Tones

Labels are by definition limiting, and so it is that calling Canyons of Static post-rock or even instrumental rock for that matter does a bit of a disservice to a band whose music transcends such easy pigeonholing. Oh, sure, the quintet boasts the expected line-up of guitars, bass, and drums (two axesmiths, in fact), but the West Bend, Wisconsin-based outfit also uses keyboards as a warm counterpoint to its heavy six-string attack. It's a bit of a family affair, too, given that the band features a married couple, guitarist Ross Severson and keyboardist Aggie Severson, alongside bassist Chris Biertzer, drummer Nathan Gaffney, and recent addition guitarist Nicholas Elert. The band formed in 2005, issued two EPs a year later, plus a debut full-length, The Disappearance, in 2008 prior to the release of the thirty-four-minute Farewell Shadows.

The opening track, “Take Heart,” shows the band commendably sidestepping the too-familiar soft-loud trap that so many post-rock outfits fall into. Yes, the group's sound is as epic as one might expect and there are are dramatic builds and climaxes, too, but such moments evolve naturally out of a given track's compositional design as opposed to being contrived for the sake of spectacle. Aggie Severson's keyboards help set a suitably ambient mood at the outset of “Wake” before a shuffling rhythm insistently propels the track into a shoegaze-inflected episode that gradually rises to a delicious, ear-shattering peak. “Veil” works itself into a seething lather that's so dense it almost conceals the bleating of what sounds like a mellotron before ceding the stage to the raging melancholy of “Drift.” Theirs is an intricate music yet not so complex that it sacrifices passion or loses a sense of spontaneity—it ain't math-rock, in other words—and though connecting lines from Canyons of Static to Mogwai, Explosions In The Sky, and My Bloody Valentine can be drawn fairly easily, Farewell Shadows clearly shows the group can roar with the best of'em.

February 2012