Saturday, August 23, 2008

Album: Giants - Old Stories

Band: Giants
Album: Old Stories
Label: Cavity Records
Year: 2008

01.Where The Ages Steal
03.O Tide
04.Whispered Ears
05.Sleeping False Idol
06.Fishermen's Prayer
07.At Last Ashore

The band's new LP, Old Stories, is instrumental from beginning to end; it's loaded with colorful chords; and the songs fade into one another as if the album is to be digested in one sitting. It's all pretty heavy and cerebral. After the last track finishes, you may need to sit back, loosen your belt, and take a breather.

The crux of this album is it's attention to sound. Every reverbed note rings out into an endless cave of echoes, and the crescendos are when the band truly sounds larger than life. The production quality makes Giants live up to their name.

"Where the Ages Steal" is a decent introduction to the LP. Giants' quiet builds, mountainous volumes, and haunting melodies give a good taste of what's to come on Old Stories. The first increase in volume comes as a bit of a surprise, but "ambient" is probably the last thing Giants wants get out of listeners' minds.

The next several tracks show more promise since the introduction is now out of the way: the builds are more gradual, there's more melodic interplay between guitars, and the volume feels like less of an assault, too. For example, "Whispered Ears" stands out due to the lack of extremity in its build. Rather than concentrating on getting loud, the band let's the marching drumbeat build and the clear, undistorted chords ring out into oblivion.

It's hard to conceive a musical interlude on a completely instrumental album, but Giants manages to pull it off on "Fishermen's Prayer": a track that sounds as vast as the ocean the album's cover depicts. There's a deep, looped drone that hums along hypnotically as a minimalist guitar melody gives the listener a bit of a breather from the heaviness of the previous track, "Sleeping False Idol."

It all ends with the piano-driven "At Last Ashore," which builds in to an appropriate drum accompaniment that sits atop a high-pitched drone of fluttering guitar notes. This track is home to the album's biggest flaw: its ending. Old Stories seems to just leave without waving goodbye, but it's understandably difficult to write a sincere ending to music that feels like it could go on forever.

But there is a silver lining to every cloud: Without a clear ending, it never really feels like Old Stories is over. And that works out since the best part about old stories is retelling them.


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