This Patch of Sky has made quite a name for themselves in recent years. With expertly produced albums and intense compositions from talented instrumentalists, it would be ridiculous for them to not be noticed. Their last album S/T brought tears to many eyes, garnering millions upon millions of listens on Spotify, and being featured on several popular playlists. All of this pales in comparison to what they just released, These Small Spaces will only build exponentially on the foundation S/T has been for the bearded boys of Eugene, Oregon.
RELEASE DATE: 22 September 2017 LABEL: Equal Vision Records (w/ Science of Silence Records releasing the vinyl in the US and Dunk!records in Europe.)
The album begins as most do, with a fluffy introduction of ambience. While normally I don’t care for these sort of tracks, most every band has done this, “Hiraeth” creates a carefully crafted cacophony that escalates almost to the point of hurting your ears and drops suddenly into “Coordinates (44°06’12″N 121°46’09″W)” polarizing the anarchy of “Hiraeth” with the subtlety and smoothness of strings and horns. The increase of instrumentation and usage of their cellist is exactly what I’d hoped for, after listening to S/T on repeat for months. They’ve taken a step further towards soundtracks and cinematic soundscapes than post-rock, though they cling to post-rock’s structures faithfully.
The whole album dips and rises, and takes you on a journey. It feels like an organic living thing, the journey is the life of the album itself. The mountains and valleys contrasting and complementing simultaneously, you can almost feel the wind as you’re guided through this experience that feels as natural as the mountains that surround Oregon itself. In fact, the location in “Coordinates” title will land you in a place as scenic as the album cover would imply, smack dab in the middle of Oregon’s picturesque mountain region. It’s extremely fitting, seeing how this album could be the soundtrack for a nature documentary.
Every song on this album has so much meaning to it, humanizing the sounds, making it personal for the listener as much as it is for the band. The solemnity of “Pale Lights” to the jazzy, and quite frankly sexy, tones of “Paper Mountains”. From the intimacy of “Her Beating Wings” to the loud joys heard in “What Once Was Lost”, there are so many emotions to be had, there’s a track for every mood. “Her Beating Wings” will always penetrate my defenses with its intensity, it reminds me of the heartbeat within my own child, and the first time I’d heard it. It gives me goosebumps, it is by far my favorite track on this album, and easily one of my favorite tracks of the year.
All of these feelings they’ve induced are only accentuated by the amazing production behind These Small Spaces that was done by Matt Bayles and Ed Brooks, a production duo that has been at the top of their game for the past year, having worked with other amazing bands like Caspian, Russian Circles, Pelican, and X Suns. Like everything else that has been touched by Bayles and Brooks, there’s nothing you can’t hear at any given time.
It also helps that the band itself is so talented. They’ve really upped their game with a larger presence in the keys and cello, both at the same time more often than not. What surprised me the most was the cello’s harmonics in “Paper Mountains”, for the longest time I thought it was a violin. I can only hope they will continue to procure tricks from their sleeves much like this one.
The only thing that could be said in criticism of this album is that they might be a little too cinematic for some people who are tired of bands like Lights & Motion, but that’s what I think I like about post-rock the most: its ability to take on aspects of so many other genres and still remain true to itself. This Patch of Sky have released an incredible album. The artwork is perfection itself (the timelapse video of its creation deserves your attention), the music itself is wholly inspiring, even the vinyl is a work of art. Science of Silence and Dunk!records have knocked it out of the park once again. For This Patch of Sky, the stars have aligned and one of this year’s greatest releases has culminated into something incredible.
WATCH | THIS PATCH OF SKY – PALE LIGHTS [PS TIME-LAPSE MUSIC VIDEO]
These Small Spaces is available on digital via Bandcamp, and on CD and vinyl via This Patch of Sky webstore.
2xLP vinyl are also available from Science Of Silence Records (US) and dunk!records (EU).
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