With the music world transferring more and more to a digital world I sometimes feel that the artwork that acompanies an album has become less and less important. I mean, the transition from LP to CD meant the room for artwork was smaller. The transition to the digital format means there’s even less space for artwork. And then there’s stuff like this. Just look at that majestic cover. If there would be an election for best cover of 2019 this has my vote.
Now, I’ve got the LP at home and I’ve listened to this album looking at that cover a couple of times. Pretty old-school, I know, but just how I like it. The cover will also tell you a bit about the central theme of the album. And yeah, it’s all about sci-fi. This is a concept album comprised of short stories that are translated to songs. Every short story inspired by Philip K. Dick. The overarching theme of these stories is isolation. In these songs it is explored what it means to live in a world governed by technology and the isolation that can bring with it. Just think of the isolation we impose upon ourselves by the use of technology today. A pretty hot topic, isn’t it?
These stories are brought to you in a cover of post-hardcore crossed with post-rock. Where on the debut EP the post-rock was a more important influence, just look at the length of the songs there, the post-hardcore started to take over on debut album Silently I Threw Them Skyward from 2015. It has been quiet since then, but now we are finally treated with a second album. After a couple of spins I can say that the time they took to write this album was worth it. The post-hardcore is again a bit more dominant, although the post-rock dynamics are still put to good use. They are applied more direct, creating a more short term ebb and flow.
The album starts of with “Permafrost”. It drags you in with an intro that is a bit dronish, but it does exactly what it needs to do. Cleanse your ears and get you ready for what’s to come. After about a minute the music shifts shape and “Permafrost” is on the loose. It is one of the harder songs on the album and sets the mood, both musical as lyrical.
I do not want to talk you through the album song by song. I want to focus on the song order. As someone who prefers to listen to whole albums, and not single songs (yeah, old-fashioned again, I know), this is an important issue for me. I’ve grown to realise that the song-order can make or break an album. In this case it is making it. This is where the post-rock dynamics shine through perhaps, as the album has an ebb and flow, a juxtaposition of harder and softer parts, that is so well balanced it borders on perfection. With some albums I would recommend a couple of tracks to listen to. I refuse to do so with The Sleepwalk Transmissions. This is an album to be devoured in one sitting. And when you are done with that, you will probably go back to the A-side and repeat the process. Yeah, it is just that good.
8.5 / 10
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