We Move Through Negative Spaces
When Kontakte visited London's Metropolis Studios to have its newly completed We Move Through Negative Spaces mastered, they heard the album played back through speakers standing eight feet tall. One can only begin to imagine how incredible the material must have sounded under such conditions, but the album sounds no less awesome when played on one's living room stereo or even iPod. The second studio album from Ian Griffiths, Stuart Law, Gary McDermott, and Ben Worth can't help but invite the ‘post-rock' label when many of the genre signifiers are present and accounted for, with loud-soft dynamics and guitar-fueled climaxes being the two most obvious. Be that as it may, the album leaves a strong and lasting impression for being so clearly a marvel of construction, with programmed beats anchoring electric guitars, strings, and piano in eight meticulously arranged pieces.
Though the dramatic opener “Astralagus” sets the album's panoramic tone when a sparkling array of chiming guitar patterns segues into an epic storm of guitars, strings, and drums, the song's attack plays like some trial run for the album's stunner, “Hope…,” which unleashes a level of six-string ferocity that's as beautiful as it is crushing. After dialing the intensity down for a lyrical episode of plaintive melancholy, the tension builds until it's released in a second wave of almost unbelievable force. When Kontakte lets the storm subside during the melancholic “Early Evening Bleeds Into Night” and graceful waltz “A Snowflake in Her Hand,” it also expands on its core sound by dressing up the tracks with violins (courtesy of Brigid McCafferty) and glockenspiels. Apparently Eluvium and Tim Hecker were two of a number of influences that inspired the band during the recording process, and one occasionally hears traces of Eluvium's melodic fingerprint emerging during the fifty-seven-minute album, and an occasional grainy texture bears out the Hecker influence too. Balmorhea might just as easily have been name-checked also, given how close in spirit the penultimate track, “Every Passing Hour,” is to the Western Vinyl outfit; even so, there's no resisting the piece when it exudes the pastoral grace of an Appalachian hymn. Given the restrained character of the album's middle tracks, it doesn't come as a major surprise when the ten-minute closer “The Ocean Between You and Me” undertakes a slow ascent to what one expects will be an incendiary climax, but there's also no denying how amazing the moment is when it finally arrives in all its full-blown splendour. Long may the band ride its transcendant wave.