Some would argue that post-rock has, in recent years, become overpopulated with carbon copies of Explosions in the Sky. Although I am not so sure about that myself, I can definitely see that there are some bands falling into a bit of a quiet-loud-quiet, delayed and reverbed guitar formula.
Not that I am complaining, because I have to dig pretty deep to find a post-rock band that will actually bore me. But there are a handful of bands out there that are actually doing something unique, exciting, and emotionally powerful that break the post-rock mold, if you will. Although if you take a look at post-rocks beginnings, you will see that there really is no mold or formula for post-rock and there was never intended to be one. But thats precisely what I am getting at.
El Ten Eleven is one of those instrumental bands that can pull its music together into a genuinely moving and expressive final product that is even lyrical in a way. And its also one of those bands that you can sincerely say sounds like no other band out there. El Ten Elevens self-titled album from 2005 was one of the most gorgeous, chilled-out albums Ive heard, and Every Direction is North takes the same sound to a whole new level.
And it may be surprising that the beauty in El Ten Elevens music doesnt rely on slowly tremolo-picked guitars like many other bands. Their songs use fairly upfront math rock/shoegaze tendencies as a framework for shimmering noodly guitars, propulsive bass lines, and haunting synths. Amazingly, it only takes two guys to execute this music, relying heavily on a double neck guitar/bass and a lot of looping.
Take for example the albums title track. The song starts with an attention-grabbing clean guitar, soon joined by a second and a third guitar part. Then a muscular bass line starts pounding its way into your head, not to be forgotten for days. This is followed by a bouncy rhythm on the drums and one of the most vital parts of all: one of El Ten Elevens signature ethereal, heart-wrenching synth guitar melodies. The song then quickly escalates into a fuzzed-out batch of guitar and frenzied drumming, then segues into a laidback rhythm overlaid by a beautiful guitar melody that puts a smile on my face every time.
El Ten Eleven is proof that you dont need a shitload of reverb to create beautiful or epic music (although a pedal board full of all manner of other effects doesnt hurt). Every Direction is North is a happy marriage of math rock without the fretboard gymnastics, shoegaze without the blatant digital sheen, and post-rock without boring drop-offs and predictable crescendos. Instead of going for a dark, brooding sound like so many post-rock bands, El Ten Eleven opts for a much more upbeat, even joyful sound that is sure to get your toe tapping while still hitting hard on a very personal level.
9.2 / 10
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