Within the first seconds of I See You When I Look At The Star, the first song on the new April Rain album Leave Me no Light, I knew I was going to be deeply moved by this record. Not often do we have the chance to be in a perfect phase with the first melody of an album, feeling from the very first moment that it’s going to be a moving experience. The only times I remembered feeling the same way in recent years was with Exxasens’s Science Will Save Us and Anathema’s Untouchable, Part 1. The former ended up being basically my proper reintroduction to post-rock, while the latter is still my favorite album from 2012 up to now. Needless to say, I was very eager to see what else April Rain had for me with Leave Me No Light.
RELEASE DATE: 30 September 2015 LABEL: Self-released
I See You When I Look at the Star introduces a mellow, melancholic guitar sound that grasps you deep down and comes back as a sweet leitmotiv throughout the song. You sense the true post-rock sound from the beginning with the delayed guitars and snares at play, and yet, something is different – something catches our attention a bit more. Maybe it’s the rhythms that come in strong and sharp where we didn’t expect it, or the kicks that keep us on the edge with a calculated unsteadiness while the sharp bass line and sweet cymbals are both destabilizing and comforting all at once. This isn’t necessarily a perfect song, or even the best song on the record, but it’s an amazing introduction both to the album and to the band that I was discovering for the first time.
April Rain is indeed post-rock in the purest tradition of the genre; melodic and spaced-out guitars, bass sometimes on its own, the bringing together of a furious medley of guitars and drums. As other instrumental bands will do, they choose to use strong poetic song titles similar to those of Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai. Terry Fox Will Run Forever or Teach Me to Fly Don’t Teach Me To Land evoke so much by their titles alone that we kind of get into the song before we’ve started listening. When our attention is on an album, we find ourselves trying to find connections between the music and the song title; sometimes, the connection seems crystal clear, and sometimes we are totally confused!
Even if April Rain don’t distance themselves from traditional post-rock structures with the songs building and building in intensity a bunch of times, they nonetheless manage to bring this proven formula to a new level. All the instruments have their special moments when they build this intensity and when they finally play all together, the energy and intensity that emerges is immediately palpable. Sometimes, furious tribal tom-tom drumming hits you right in the face and a cinematic, guitar-driven loud explosion of sound destroys you like in Queue Up for Infinity. Sometimes, the building is a very slow, careful process and emotionally charged, like in I’m All Crying Inside. The guys in April Rain know how to compose a song, and that reflects in every different angle they take.
By the end of the album, the impression I had on it at the very beginning was confirmed. This is, along with Spurv’s Skarntyde, the best instrumental rock album of the year and one of the best albums of 2015. Some moments are better than others, (Violent Passion Surrogate or Terry Fox Will Run Forever are two big highlights) but there is a remarkable coherence in the effort, talent, energy and emotion through the entire album. If you’re one of those people claiming that post-rock is dead or lacks originality, this is one album to prove you wrong.