You May Die in the Desert / Gifts from Enola: Harmonic Motion Volume 1

Post-rock lives…at least so long as bands like You May Die in the Desert and Gifts From Enola have anything to say about it. The outfits are given an ideal showcase to strut their stuff on Differential's first Harmonic Motion installment in what will presumably be a multi-chapter series.

Brian Woods' guitar breathes apocalyptic fire a number of times during “The Sound of Titans,” an episodic, twelve-minute travelogue that inaugurates You May Die in the Desert's set in fine style. Here and elsewhere, bassist Brandon Salter and drummer Michael Clark rise to the occasion when the need arises. Woods indulges in barracuda riffing in the succinct “In Case I Should Die…,” “Mitchell vs. Rowesdower” alternates atmospheric and aggressive passages, and “Seagulls = Sea Eagles” works a taste of loping funk into its sinewy frame (the doubled guitar and bass lines are an especially nice touch, and so too is the glockenspiel) before the immolating crush of “Let's Have Sarcasm for Breakfast” rolls in.

Though the two groups' sounds are almost uncannily alike, Gifts From Enola pushes the intensity level up a notch with its opening salvo “The Sun's Condolences.” The group's fuller sound (synthesizers are audible in “Still Walks the Streets,” at least when not buried under a six-string avalanche) could be attributed to some degree to it being a quartet, not trio. Gifts From Enola also stretches the stylistic palette a bit more compared to You May Die in the Desert by including an atmospheric interlude (“10/7”), shoegaze-inflected stratospherics (“The Vision of Ruby Turpin”), and a prog-inflected closer (“Dusk Swallowed Dawn”) whose acoustic guitar intro startles before being wiped out when the cyclone hits. All things considered, the collection isn't mind-blowingly innovative but it's a picturesque ride nonetheless and should leave famished post-rock fans sated.

October 2008