Soeyoez are a post-rock band from Belgium who have been together, with a couple of personnel changes, for 4 years and this, A Sea Of Light Departing, is their second and most recent release. Album artwork was created by Jens (Van den Borre, guitarist) and incorporates elements that relate to each track.
For those intrigued by the name, here is what Jens had to say: “Our name (Soeyoez) is derived from the Russian Soyuz rockets. A name that suits us well, we’re always trying to keep going forward in our music. Exploring everything around us and learning from our actions as a band. That’s where the whole idea of taking something from space as starting point came from. We’re exploring, much like astronauts do.”
RELEASE DATE: 13 October 2014 LABEL: Self-Released
Having only heard this release by them, I don’t know how much their sound has improved on the last release (although I will be going back to check that out) but in their blurb they say that the making of these songs has made them a tighter unit. And that seems borne out in the music. It sounds like a band who are fairly mature. They are comfortable with one another and each element supports the rest. It’s not music with an ego but it is music with a personality.
The first half of the track is a bit misleading (when compared to the rest of the EP), with it’s powerful voiceover and heavily effected, glitchy sounding drums. It’s an interesting opening for sure and introduces elements we will become much more familiar with throughout.
Delicate piano and simple guitar melody introduce the first instance of vocals on this short album on second track ‘Hope’. I’m not sure if it is deliberate at this stage or not but the vocal line is almost inaudible to me. But while the words are hard to make out, the voice acts almost as another instrument and fits the mood of the piece well. A more energetic build leads to a beautiful,inspiring breakdown of piano and guitar before the second verse/vocal section comes back in. It sounds like a different voice here (the Soeyoez website does show there are two vocalists). The piece picks up intensity with vocals becoming a heartfelt plea, increasingly shouted with emotion as the instrumentation picks up pace and energy around it. The last minute of “Hope” is preceded by a line of voiceover and launches into the most hectic music we’ve heard so far. Pounding rhythmic drums support tremolo picked guitar lines and arpeggiated piano notes that lead to a climax.
The start of Atalanta feels like a necessary pause to regain composure and control after the emotion of the previous piece. Nice rhythms supporting guitars drenched in reverb provide the background for another build and soon we’re into another quite intense section. This seems more restrained than the last minute of the track before and stops abruptly just over halfway through the track. A twin vocal line with subtle but welcome harmonies leads into the refrain, “It’s burning into my mind”. That is something this track and album as a whole seems to do with its repeated motifs and up and down tempos and variation in dynamics. Again, the last minute of the track is much more uptempo and energetic. Something seems to be a bit by the numbers about it this time though. The formula, including the abrupt stop at the end of the track has already been heard in places. Whilst it is a pleasant listen, I’m looking for something more about them by this point.
And I find it with the penultimate track, “When The Sound Grows Too Loud”. A very simple vocal line with downbeat delivery sits well within chiming guitars. Something about this reminds me a bit of The Appleseed Cast or maybe even Deus and I like it a lot. No real surprise follows this as we enter yet another build and then another heavier section. The crunchy guitars seem to have a bit more bite to them this time and it is welcome. A downbeat midsection reflects the emotion of the vocal at the beginning of the song. But towards the end we really start to see something a bit different. The rhythms more in your face, an urgency to the music and a simple yet effective guitar line all lead to the, not unexpected, climax of this song. What is great about this is it shows the strength of the band being able to stick to a formula but to paint the picture using subtly different methods and thereby keeping the interest alive.
Behind A Wall Of Memories is a perfect closer to this album. Again, there’s nothing unfamiliar by now in what it does but by this point I’d probably feel confused if it did do something different. Its strength is in the gradual rise throughout the whole track, through sublime and delicate guitars and eloquent yet sparse vocals to a raging crescendo that fittingly draws things to a close. Exactly as the track before raised the stakes on previous tracks, this does as well. An explosive culmination of loud guitar chords, pounding drums and bass with a repetitive piano melody. Unlike some of the other tracks that have a felt a bit restrained even as they reach their ultimate point, this one surpasses those. Each time you feel they’ve reached the conclusion, another layer is added. It really drags your soul out of you and into the music and when they end on a faded out chord, you realise you didn’t want it to stop.
If I have any issues with this release, it is that I don’t think the production does it justice. There’s nothing wrong with it. Everything is audible, there are some nice ideas such as the drums in the first song but it just feels a bit flat. A bit too controlled. The toms in particular seem a bit lost in the background when they should be adding weight to the pacier sections. I suspect that hearing this EP played live would be an entirely different experience to just listening to the record. I’d also like to hear a bit more experimentation with different sounds and effects as displayed in the opening track.