The unexpected is a great thing. I must admit when I heard Palefeather‘s description (“Pink Floyd with a bit of post rock”) I was basically expecting bog standard post rock with a few noodles, but what we have here is a very languid pure-prog album. I’ve always had a fair bit of antipathy towards the style, but again, Palefeather surprise – this is a very nice little release.
Yeah, I’ve tried ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’, ‘Piper At The Gates Of Dawn’ and ‘Animals’ stoned, sober, drunk, in the car, with headphones on in the dark, on a $2 stereo, and it’s never really done it for me – if I’m honest, it’s bored me shitless, and this is coming from a huge Stars Of The Lid fan. I credit my surprised enthusiasm for Palefeather down to two things:
1) Roger Waters isn’t singing
2) Palefeather really know how to write an instrumental
Mostly the latter I think. The unexpected continues in that the tunes don’t really go anywhere, but they’re still awesome. Being used to slightly more dynamic music, the first few times I was taken aback by how you always expect the songs to GET HUGE, but then the music quietly and gently rolls out another rather pastoral guitar lick/bit of synth instead and continues politely progging along. Seriously, ‘Megaloceros’ is 18 minutes long, never really gets beyond “moderate amounts of tension/loudness”, but is a perfect headnodder that’s a really enjoyable listen. I honestly don’t know how they do it.
It bears repeating: They really, really know how to write an instrumental. The instruments are constantly in that realm where they aren’t playing fast but there’s clearly mastery of technique, synths come and go at the perfect time, drums do many a tasty fill, it’s that sort of slow burning skill that no tech death bands or Zakk Wylde etc are ever going to approach. ‘The Trumpeter’ is another really good example, the rainy-est day-est jam you’ve ever heard (listening to it in the middle of a particularly hot West Australian summer really doesn’t feel right). I kept on thinking of “Tommy Emmanuel covering a funeral doom band”, which is honestly not a bad description of the tasty noodling and huge, tundra-march synth pads. Even better – this is all before a gorgeous flute/panpipe/”woodwind synth” line comes down from the skies and gives you that wonderful feeling that only come from listening to extremely depressing, but extremely good music.
Never has a drift through sadguy English prog forests ever been so much fun. It’s an incredibly good album, the sort of thing that rewards close listening as much as it makes doing the dishes a meaningful experience. Highly rewarding, and even if you’re really anti-prog I’d still recommend this. Excellent prog times that everyone can enjoy.
Scribed by: Caspian Yurisich