Listening to As Seas Exhale’s Voyager gives the exact feeling you get when you’re leaving for a long trip. The band name calls to the big open sea, mysterious, calm and unpredictable at the same time. This impression is somewhat reinforced by their intriguing album cover and the simple yet evocative album title, Voyager. Like in any other trip, we know when and how we are going to leave, but we have no idea when or how it will end, or how many turns and detours we will encounter on our way. Clocking in at over 100 minutes, Voyager is sure a long travel, especially in this fast-paced era where the idea of a double album is slowly disappearing. Nevertheless, Voyager guides us perfectly without losing our interest during this long but passionate trip. On our way, we experience flows and tides of emotions paired with musical challenges that leave us shaken long after the last note of “Mare Incontra Il Cielo” has been played.
RELEASE DATE: 08 January 2016 LABEL: Self-released
As soon as we take off into the exhaling seas of Voyager, we encounter both calm and furious parts. The ambience and style require lots of attention from the listener for multiple listens in order to capture every sound and the subtleties that are developed during the journey. Sometimes it is with long, calm and ambient passages that can last almost 10 minutes (like “Amalthea” or “Gefa Mér Hvild,” with their Sigur Ros feeling, for instance), sometimes with entertaining rhythms, like “Adrastea.” These beautiful ambient pieces are both amazing, but also foreboding; as with the sea, we are left worried as to when everything is going to burst out again. They also bring us back in time As Seas Exhale’s discography. Indeed, their previous works such as “Laika” or “Recovery” were, first and foremost, ambient music. With Voyager, however, we sense a desire from the band to expand the musical perspectives within the boundaries of their traditional sound.
There are also more unexpected turns on Voyager; one of the most pleasant being “Jovian,” with its soft electro groove. Taking place more or less halfway through the record, it marvelously demonstrates the variety of influences that can touch As Seas Exhale´s souls, and its sound isn’t far from the of the great moments of bands like Mum or Worm is Green. Incorporating these kind of sounds in ambient music seems so natural, but is still underdeveloped in the genre; here is a great example of the possibilities that it can bring to musicians.
Still, even with these variations, we can still count on a base camp, a leitmotiv that keeps us grounded in what As Seas Exhale’s sound is. The use of mellow, smooth and soft clean guitars surely helps gives a clear direction to this piece of art, and in songs like “Viottan,” it can bring us all the way back to the beginning of the trip: the beautiful “Uncharted” and “Voyager.” This is crucial in order for us to realize that we are not facing a two-hour-long melting pot of musical influences thrown at us, but rather facing a carefully-crafted and coherent musical journey. As the journey finishes, we realize, like with any other trip, that it ended a lot faster than we expected, and even if it might have seemed dense at first, we would have taken more of it! A great moment in post-rock music so far in 2016.