Is there a beauty in darkness? When I think of beauty, I think about it in a very positive way, like the beauty of a sunset. Applying that to music, I came to love post-rock and ambient music because of the beautiful soundscapes these genres present. Every song is a journey, and the emotions that they bring out in the listener are unique to everyone. While the music is subjective, a lot of bands strive for happier emotions, emotions that inspire us or just make us feel good in general. These bands find beauty through happiness, but not beauty through darkness. I say that there is a beauty in darkness, just like the beauty of a heavy storm.
The White Mega Giant explore this feeling through their new album titled ‘TWMG’. Hailing from Padua, Italy, this ambient / electronic post-rock trio started making music around 2010, and they were immediately noted for their amazing live presence. They released their first album in 2011 which aimed to capture the power they gave at live performances, and it certainly did. ‘TWMG’ however, aimed to capture a completely different sound, one of complete darkness and despair. The White Mega Giant dive deep into the gloomy corners of post-rock, and find beauty there as well.
RELEASE DATE: 22 September 2014 LABEL: Shyrec
The first track, “Hubots Pt. 1” lets you test the waters of ‘TWMG’, instead of throwing you right into the deep end. It’s a slow descent, but one that is needed for the listener to prepare for what lies ahead. It starts out very electronic, and with spoken word, but the voice is robotic, and very uncomforting. Layer upon layer is added, and the excavation begins. The more the voice speaks and the electronics build, the more settled you get into the chilling universe that The White Mega Giant has created. This song, and album for that matter, feels like it is coming straight from the future. However, this future feels post-apocalyptic, and desolate. The soft piano in the background gives you no feeling of safety, and the electronics keep building.
After a short silence, accompanied only by spoken word, “Hubots Pt. 2” begins. You’ve tested the waters, and now it’s time for you to be thrown in. With each hit of the snare and crash, the drums pack an immense amount of power. The distorted and sludgy guitar chords reverberate throughout the song, while the electronics create a blur in the background. This track is even darker than the first, and all the more beautiful. It’s constructed to sound so haunting, but something about the music sparks a glimmer of light within the cold and dark structure.
“Heart Beat Quantize” starts out just like the title suggests, a heartbeat. It’s a slow and steady pulse, one of someone who is relaxed. With the buildup of inaudible voices, just as robotic as they were before, nothing is relaxing about this song. Yet the song finds itself backed with dreamlike vocals once the voices fade out, and it gives off a feeling that you aren’t isolated and lost in this world by yourself. The guitars are found only in the background, while the electronics still have a hold over the songs. No matter how powerful the guitars may be, they can’t seem to triumph the electronics, and this war ends with the song going to static, and cutting out at once.
The shorter songs on the album, “Analog” and “Automaton”, clock in at around three minutes, but both showcase the more ambient side of the band. Both songs feature a piano track, and both bring a very unnerving feel to the album. The songs are very soft in nature, but there is a lot to be heard that can be picked up with a keen ear. These songs don’t necessarily serve as interludes into other songs, since the whole album flows together respectively. Rather, they serve as a display of the softer side of their music and gives the album a chance to express itself in a more subtle way, but it still has the overall theme of darkness laced together.
While I praise the softer sides of the album, I must also praise the much heavier songs on the album, like “Pulse Rate” and “Substitute”. Both songs pack a hell of a punch, and the power produced from them are palpable. The drone-like guitars, almost crossing into a doom-like feel, are at their greatest intensity during these tracks. The vocals that are heard on this album are exclusive to this band, and the vocal tuning they use to give it the extra push to complete the sense of murky black that this album demonstrates is remarkable. The heavy electronics are very prevalent, especially on “Pulse Rate”, and add the perfect layer of complete wretchedness. “Substitute” is around ten minutes long, but never are you bored by it. The song builds upon itself, and there is always something that holds your attention to keep listening.
The last song, “Meccatronica”, has a lot of weight on its shoulders. It has to capture the listener with all the defining elements of the album, and it needs to be an immaculate end to the journey. This song might be the closest one to post-rock, and the way this song unfolds is unlike any others on the album. Mainly led by the vocals, they start out somewhat peaceful. But when the song progresses, it turns into the darkest songs of the album. The guitars get louder, pulsating chords of complete disaster, while the vocals transform into a cry for help. The strobe-like effects of the electronics start to take over the song, and it still continues to get more bleak, as well as darker and darker. They have taken us to the darkest side of post-rock, and with no hope to ever escape from it. The song ends in complete chaos, and eventually fades into nothingness. This album will exhaust you with the amount of energy it brings, but the experience is distinct to this band, and will never be heard anywhere else.
The White Mega Giant show their ability to master complete song control on ‘TWMG’ by crafting an eerie yet ethereal universe that sucks the listener in and holds them tight, giving them a unique immersion into a work of art that captures the essence of darkness, and the path it takes to get there. Starting out in a fuzzy gray, the album gets increasingly darker, ending up in the most complete form of black that music can create. Along with the music, the album cover is a perfect visual for the album, which shows a person being covered in smoke, especially by the billowing black smoke that floods over a good proportion of it. This forty-five minute long concept of the gloomier side of music represents emotions that aren’t usually felt by most bands in these respective genres, but also provides a deep sense of beauty that hides in the shadows of the album. The White Mega Giant find a beauty in darkness, and you can find it too, as long as you listen closely.