Explosions in the Sky

All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone

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There is little middle ground for an instrumental post-rock band like the Austin, TX-based Explosions in the Sky. Endlessly compared to Mogwai -- who can make aggressively angry music when they want to -- this quartet consciously seeks what is meandering and beautiful. If there is a strategy behind their music as revealed by 2001's Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell the Truth Shall Live Forever and 2003's The Earth Is Not a Cold Dead Place, it's that beauty seeks tension to resolve itself and find itself even in seeming chaos. This music featuring layered guitars, piano, bass, and drums begins with melody and more often than not ends with it, no matter how far from the quiet and even halting lyricism the band wandered into at the beginning. Which raises two questions. First, is All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone different from the other pair of records on Temporary Residence? And, of course, since one must confront the seemingly eternal academically trained analysis and cynicism of the indie world, "Is it necessary?" The answer to both questions is "yes." While the surface of Explosions in the Sky's sonic sense of labyrinthine adventure is similar, the manner in which they get to the center of each piece is not. On "The Birth and Death of the Day," which opens the set, violence and noise are threatened from the beginning with distorted chords, feedback, and big crescendos. Space enters before lyricism here, though harmonically everything resonates as one, and for a moment one thinks that this is a forgotten intro to some lost and found U2 song of yore, but they quickly pass that mark and dig inside the chaos for its roots and branches. "It's Natural to Be Afraid" begins with subtle dissonance and the guitars emerging out of quiet chaos with sounds and pianos playing slowly and contrapuntally. It takes over 13 minutes to wind up, down, and around again, but it's an exercise that is rewarding for a patient listener -- or if you simply want to close your eyes and go with it. "So Long, Lonesome," at under four minutes, closes the set. Its piano lines take a front seat as guitars provide counterpoint and a sonic backdrop, and the tension force field never rises above a four. It's almost a chamber piece. Ultimately, there is real growth here, subtle and unpretentious as it is. All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone is another gorgeous exercise by Explosions in the Sky. How can listeners not need more music by a band that seeks beauty over everything else in its subtly expanding sonic universe?

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