Cecilia::eyes: Mountain Tops Are Sometimes Closer to the Moon

Name the double guitar-bass-drums outfit that specializes in melancholy instrumental rock with valleys of tranquil restraint escalating into roaring, ecstatic peaks. You're forgiven if you first guessed MONO but, of course, the correct answer is Cecilia::eyes, a quartet from Belgium (guitarists Christophe Thys and Mike Conat, bassist Pascal Thys, drummer Xavier Waerenburgh) whose debut full-length is a remarkably accomplished, hour-long distillation of the genre. As MONO does with strings, Cecilia::eyes fleshes out its core sound with keyboards; even so, the nucleus remains guitars with the group's enveloping blanket of chiming guitar lines in epic anthems like “Our Longest Winter” as much indebted to shoegaze as post-rock.

A note inside the CD cover reads “Play it loud!” and the impact of tracks such as “Shift/Kill” and “One Million Whales” is heightened considerably when their humongous roar is allowed to detonate so spectacularly. The band's guitar choir turns symphonic in the beautifully modulated “Too Late for a Porn Movie” while “Song for Alda” offers a momentary respite from the intensity with a becalmed piano intro which, as one would expect, anticipates the grandiose escalation that ultimately sets in so beautifully. “Farewell She Whispered” closes the album with a dramatic piano-based meditation of vivid cinematic character that omits drums altogether. Rare for a debut, the quartet's playing exemplifies a remarkably seasoned handling of dynamics and pacing. With Godspeed You! Black Emperor on indefinite hiatus, the time is ripe for a band like Cecilia::eyes to help fill the void with its own quality brand of long-form instrumental dramatics.

April 2008