After 2006's Peregrine, the Appleseed Cast's rhythm section underwent several lineup changes, and since Sagarmatha's liner notes include members both old and new, it's safe to assume that the album was likely recorded at different periods along the way. Originally intended as an EP, it sounds something like an inversion of its more song-oriented predecessor: While Peregrine only contained several instrumental numbers, here the band switches emphasis, expanding on those instrumentals by crafting an entire album of slow-building, glacial post-rock. It's a shame to see them retreat from that melodically rich, hook-laden former terrain, where they so deftly balanced the best part of their emo roots with the new ambitions they had been cultivating over several albums, but the epic music of Sagarmatha nevertheless maintains a consistently engaging, moody atmosphere -- dreamy, powerfully bleak, and drenched in reverb. Things get off to a weighty start with the first three tracks, all of which feature a similar interplay between evocatively subdued passages and colossally roaring summits, where buried vocals enter late into the fray, if at all, and the steadfast drumbeat is the ever-present guiding light. Some of the finest moments on Sagarmatha are admittedly the ones most reminiscent of Peregrine. The geographic yearning on "The Summer Before," a relatively concise song which forefronts the vocals a bit more, turns the word "Arizona" into a beautifully simple refrain, and it feeds quite agreeably into the sweet little acoustic track that follows. "South Col" exhibits real spirit too, displaying a positively cathartic sense of mystery -- out of tune pianos and all. On Sagarmatha, the Appleseed Cast's music is distant, the few vocals indiscernible yet undeniably expressive, and the feeling of drifting malaise inescapable, which all adds up to an alluring, if at times overly heavy, development in the band's ever-changing trajectory.
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AllMusic Review by Ben Peterson