Del Rey. The name makes me think of 50s throwback greaser bands for some reason. No idea why. Probably because of that band The Bellrays. Anyway, THAT is absolutely NOT what Del Rey are all about. Uh-uh. No sir. Del Rey are a five-piece instrumental rock band of the ‘post’ variety.
I know what you’re thinking. Stop. You’re wrong. Del Rey bring so much more than ‘loud-quiet-loud’ Mogwai/Explosions in the Sky-isms to the table. Hell, they have TWO, count ’em, TWO drummers for extra THWACK, and THWACK is something they have in spades. YES they can twinkle and sparkle with the best of ’em, but by crikey do they THWACK.
They do something ELSE too. Specifically, within the opening bars of first track ‘Return of The Son Of Fog Rider’, once the twinkling fade-in is done. They reference the ‘Prophecy Theme’ from Dune.
Well, that’s ME sold.
I mean, I’m sure they didn’t do it knowingly, or else there would probably have been a knowing wink in the song title, nonetheless that distinctive li’l four note lick – composed by Brian and Roger Eno, fact fans – is clearly there to be heard by those who are familiar with it. Interestingly, it’s ALSO referenced by Opeth in ‘The Moor’, the opening track of ‘Still Life’, but I digress.
Inadvertent or not, it made MY ears prick up, especially when they layer that pattern with some tumbling double drums, giving it a nicely hefty THUMP. The rest of the track glides along on a base of twinkling, shimmering looped guitar, with those jungle drums weaving in and out of the mix whilst some tasty big-chord action goes on atop the whole morass. Subtly effected guitars bridge chasms in the music as everything shifts restlessly beneath. Dynamically speaking, this track is dynamite.
Second track, and my favourite song-title on here, ‘E Pluribus Unicorn’ is driven along by some full-on Dale Crover style rhythmagick and whirring electronics, embellished by twining, sinewy guitars and strident bass chording. Those whirring electronics do double time and carry a lot of the melody within their helicopter-blade-like sounds, and raging rock riffing acts as a foundation. LOTSA middle-eastern sounding hammer-on guitar snakery lies herein.
Elsewhere, all of the above sounds and tones are used in varying and dazzling formations, from the plangent, watery tones and languid guitars of ‘Innumeracy’, to the big, locked-in-fomation, dirty-ass guitars, bass and epic keys that jostle for place next to the ever-so subtle slow-burning tremelo guitar and motorik rhythm of ‘Silent Weapons For Quiet Wars’, and the quietly enormous, elegiac feel of ‘These Children That Come At you With Knives’, Del Rey know exactly how to twist and turn. Their use of electronics is both sparing and effective, adding to the spacey sounds wrung from their guitars and effects and giving more depth and a wider sense of scope to their overall sound.
Those double-drums tumble, pound, skitter and pulverise, and the guitars entwine, ascend and cascade. The bass is a rock-solid anchor for everything around it, yet is never so much as slightly swallowed in the mix.
Del Rey surprised me, and showed me that THIS is how post-rock is made.
Hell, they showed me that THIS is how MUSIC is made.
Scribed by: Paul Robertson