Thursday, December 11, 2008

Moving Mountains - Foreword

Release Date: 12/11/08
Genre: Post-Rock, Indie Rock

Pneuma was my favorite album of 2007. No pressure right? So Foreword should have been my most anticipated album this year, but as I learn with other albums, hype can be a real bitch. This was suppose to be available exclusively on absolutepunk, but as I googled around to see if there was any hype on the internet, I found a link on amazon. I wanted to celebrate as this was 7pm (PST) Wednesday night.

Review: If you wanted a more virgin review, don't read mine because I'm a movmou fan who reads anything written about the band, watches any video with the band, and most important, has listen to 3 of the 4 songs on the EP thanks to youtube. To be perfectly honest, after my first listen, I wasn't sure where it would rank in my end of the year list. I knew it was good, but maybe I killed it by listening to "With One's Heart in One's Mouth" too many times on myspace, or discovering that the final 3 minutes was another song in reverse. Perhaps I spoiled myself by hearing "new song 3" at least once a week. Whatever it was, I felt that the band didn't climax as hard as "8105," transition as smooth as "The Earth And The Sun," or send shivers down my spine a la "Ode."

Still, when I think of all of my musical phases, it feels like Moving Mountains are making music solely for my ears. No other band combines beautiful instrumentation with thunderous vocals. The closest band I could find was The Cast Before The Break and even thought they are one badass band, the one missing piece that I was hoping would develop over time didn't happen. Even thought their music was rocking, I couldn't feel emotionally invested. However on Foreword, I felt it.

Each track is clocked in just above the 9:30 mark, except for Armlength which is near the 7 minute mark. In the opening track, "Foreword" starts very much like those post-rock bands in the vain of Explosions in the Sky. Very pretty twinkle stuff and although you can hear hints of what they are influenced by, it's their own sound. The vocals are a partnership between Greg and Frank shouting "We are so far away/from home." Nice fever stuff. The second half of the song reverts down to a stop and gradually builds and builds. Reminds me of This Will Destroy You or Giants. It's vocal-less, but the guitar is singing what your heart wants to.

The second song, "With One's Heart In One's Mouth" is a monster. It's hard to capture my initial reaction as this song has been out for the past 2 months on myspace. The beginning has a really neat guitar riff and when the second guitar enters, it creates this collapsing slope sound and then added strings really created this bumpy texture. "All is lost, you got nothing more-nothing more to fear." This song is also the only one with harsh screaming. Sounds unexpected at the beginning, but amazing with more listens. The last section is very cool ambient stuff, something I was afraid they would drop so I'm glad they explore more of that sound.

On the beginning lines of "Armlength," I was reminded of Sufjan Steven's "John Wayne Gacy Jr." I must be crazy, but the way the vocals linger towards the end has a similar delivery of Sufjan. Anyways, this song is the only entirely new song as they haven't performed it live. It starts pretty lonely and overall has the most of the clean vocal. Mostly acoustic until the drums enter steady with more softer percussion later. The percussion go away. Then it erupts like pg.lost's "Yes I Am." No real build up, just instant bang. Although I like the song, it's the only one that feels odd as the mood is darker. They didn't get to use more melodies, but it fits the song's tone. The whole feel was just a noisy affair with the drums in a run and stop motion. A little confused storm building. So just that short span between 3:10 to 4:50 just felt underwhelming. The ending is just drums and I'm not sure if the guitars are being play, but that noise when you unpressed the guitar strings, you can hear that a lot. It just creates this real moody soundscape.

Lastly, "Lights & Shapes" is bound to be the fan favorite and they've shot a music video for it as well. It takes two seconds before the song just plays without a intro. "Your skin against my own/Your flesh against my bones." How exciting. The tempo is high. The vocals seem to be using some effects. Still, the energy is insane. A lot of back and forth action. I love how when the verse ends, the chorus begins in such a high note. Awesome use of the line "Someday the trees will sing." Once that settles, we get this incredible break down that sees the song put itself back together. The strings start to sting in the background. The guitars drone out. Fade away. Then the part around the 5 minute mark really echos Explosions in the Sky in how there's a lot of 8th notes, but no one is agreeing yet. And then they all come together and just rip the sky apart. Lights. Shapes. One last vocal display for good measure. And then it drowns out.

Fuck me.

And it sucks that they had to release it now when I've already got my bags in the 'year end' list. It's tough to compare it with Pneuma, but it's impossible not to. It's not too different, but it's not a sequel. Maybe the album covers are toying with me, but Pneuma felt bright, full of life and more well rounded. When the last song played, the album came full circle. Foreword is something else that I can't quite place my finger on, but I sense that it's darker. When its last song played, it went towards a direction and moved.

Summary: It's a grower for sure. I can understand the disappointment as the melodies aren't too on the surface and sometimes it feels like it's 8 songs instead of 4. With the way my music phases have led, this is the best band out there right now. My first listen might not have been the mind blowing experience I was hoping for, but I'm there now. The breakdown in "Foreword," I feel it. The sudden screams on "With One's Heart," chills, and that ending on "Lights & Shapes" gives me shivers beyond my control. Did they manage to top the best album ever? I don't know, but they managed to make the best EP ever.

Key Tracks: Foreword, Armlength, Lights & Shapes
Rating: 10/10

3 comments:

ram6 said...

Nice review. Good to see another real fan being really enthousiastic! Cheers, ramses.

J.D. said...

I absolutely love Moving Mountains. I think it's funny cause while this ep has been reviewed positively, I think it's better than everyone thinks. I feel like each song is an entire album.

gmarcian said...

Fantastic, absolutely amazing band and ep!! Love it.