Sometimes in life, we come across something, and as one thing leads to another, before you know it, you’re off, heading down an all consuming rabbit hole. Whether it be a historical mystery, a family’s lineage, or even via a YouTube thread, before you know it, you have half a dozen new favourite bands, and a wider understanding of the world around you.
Well, through coming to review the latest God Is An Astronaut release, I’ve been taken on a similar journey, and it’s one which has led me to places, some of which I’d never gone before.
Not because of an unawareness of God Is An Astronaut themselves, I’ve known of them a very long time, as my close friends in Drive By Wire had played alongside them previously, many moons ago. It was through this connection, that my education into GIAA began initially. Even at that time, there had been a good six or seven releases from the band, so it was a real paper trail of discovery.
It was during that period I picked up a copy of GIAA’s debut album, from 2002, entitled The End Of The Beginning, and what a mind-blowing experience it had been indeed. So, when I was offered the opportunity to review the latest release, The Beginning Of The End, I was desperate to learn more, especially after noticing the similarity in album titles.
So, what I’ve discovered is this, and it’s what The Beginning Of The End actually is. It’s actually an updating and reworking of the debut album, two whole decades later.
What GIAA have done is taken The End Of The Beginning, and overhauled the experience. Re-recorded live, to also capture the experience in a more organic way, the band have taken the opportunity to update some of the source material. Using modern technology and working with refinements which the band themselves have made over twenty years of having played the material live, and how certain things have evolved in the sound over that time.
What has come out is truly a wondrous thing, and through the rabbit hole I’ve been down, going back to these early albums, and rediscovering GIAA all this time later, comparing the new with the old in such a stark way, has been a revelation.
Yes, on the whole, the tunes are still the same tunes they always were, and I’m instantly transported back through listening to the new versions, but actually, holding the tracks side by side, the subtle changes, and upgrades, definitely make for an interesting listen.
I think it’s safe to say that God Is An Astronaut really are masters of what they create…
I think it’s safe to say that God Is An Astronaut really are masters of what they create, both in their art and within the style of music they play. Comparable to Explosions In The Sky, and PG.Lost, they are often bunched into the same atmospheric post-rock label as Mogwai, but honestly, I feel that they are far superior to Mogwai anyway.
The level of scope, and dynamics that GIAA can muster up on each new release is truly phenomenal, and to now be two decades later, and still creating new ideas with each release is astounding. It’s no different here, and even going back to their foundations, and daring to rewrite their own history somewhat is an absolute masterstroke.
If you’re already aware of GIAA, you will know that massive sonic soundscapes and intensely serene moments are always high on the priority list sound wise, and they are so instantly recognisable. Where this has defined some bands, in particular some of the traditional stalwart heavy rock and metal bands, who have spent their whole career working the same formula, over and over again, which gets incredibly boring, with GIAA, even now, reworking their old music, it’s still fresh and invigorating.
The tunes themselves are heavier, but then this, I feel, is in part, because of the live experience. There’s a richer urgency to many of the tracks, and the updated technology has put a new spin on certain sounds you may be familiar with already.
There’s also been a shuffle around on the track listings, so I think this has also helped to not just be a reprint of an old album, it has instead made it feel fresh and new. One noticeable shuffle has been moving Lost Symphony to the album closer. Before, it was one of the first few tracks and now it’s been slotted in as the finale, which closes things perfectly.
For once, I don’t want to delve too deeply with this review, my usual is to discuss specific tracks, highlights, and comparisons, but here there is absolutely no point. God Is An Astronaut are God Is An Astronaut, if you are already a fan, you will know what you are getting, and if you aren’t, you really should get yourself educated with them. They aren’t as much a show as they are an experience. Pioneers in their art, the fact that two decades on, they are still as vibrant as ever, is a real testament to them, and again, the work is absolutely incredible.
Diversity has always been, and still is now, high on GIAA’s skillset, and through relistening to these pieces, the sheer scope, and layers are truly wondrous. Going from breakneck to ambience, and every stop in between, is a tough thing to capture right, but God Is An Astronaut are the masters, and here, back to where it all started, they’ve still managed to make it feel completely new and relevant. True class, of the highest order.
Scribed by: Lee Beamish