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Album Review: TBA

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Album Review: Late Night Venture - Pioneers Of Spaceflight

Since the year 2000, Danish post-rockers have set about turning psychedelic shoegaze into art. The starting point of each song they write is always the vast, cosmic soundscapes created by Jonas Qvesel’s aching, mellifluous keys. They are the orchestral canvases upon which the rest of the band paint streaks of colour like stars across the sky. What separates the band from their peers is their refreshingly sparing use of vocals – the song always comes first and if the instruments alone are enough to complete the picture then the vocals simply aren’t given a role.

This being my first taste of the band, I did a little digging and discovered that the album was recorded completely live in the studio. Then, with the assistance of long-term collaborator Magnus Lindberg () – the man with the mixing studio – they were able to subsequently craft the album into shape as an editor would slowly edit a film from his reams of raw material. The laborious process took them a whole year and a half, but the end product is most definitely imbued with a wonderfully organic flow, as if it was grown from the ground itself.

Søren Hartvig and Peter Lau Olsen’s vocals don’t get an airing until the album’s third track; the twinkle in the album’s eye, “Houses”. It pulses and glows, casting its emotional, introspective spell for its entire length – “Would you follow me where the waves crash?”. Everything that comes before or after is part of the journey, but “The houses by the shore” are our welcoming destination. “Kaleidoscopes”, initially rich in instrumental -esque drama, marks out the vastness of the Heavens from which we fall, whilst the mean -like pop twists of the song’s latter stages take us reeling into the gentle field recordings and tremulous strings of “Peripherals”.

No matter at which point you are in the album there seems to be two rules of thumb. Firstly, the music must be laced with -esque blasts of epic melody and at some point there will be a noisome switch-up to crashing bottom-end. Take the gentile openings and powerful closing of “Birmingham”, dull and dreary at its outset, it’s a track that is soon imploding around us. So much attack and release can become a little nauseating, but here it all seems to be fastidious preparation for the angry, repeating action of “The Empty Forest”. Where there’s a lull in proceedings, such as the slower drift of tracks like “Glitterpony” with its vinyl crackle, and “Hours”, a slower reprise of ’s “Close To Me”, there are the counteracting -esque dance beats and crushing synth markers that drive both “Trust” and “Carisma”.

Yes, it seems perfectly reasonable to view Pioneers Of Spaceflight as a series of musical paintings. Undoubtedly, all feature immense beauty with stunning use of light and shade and all are gloriously textured, but there is a suggestion that the artist’s dedication to this one theme has resulted in a body of work where each piece bears too strong a resemblance to those of its neigbours. Fans of post-rock’s soft and airy style are the ones who will see past this and adore the work of . Souls of a darker nature may find it harder to accept so willingly.

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