On their second album, All Is Violent, All Is Bright, Irish instrumental trio God Is an Astronaut continue to create anthem-like tracks suggestive of 1980s alternative rock, but without the vocals. Torsten Kinsella provides atmospheric sounds on his keyboards and keening melodic lines on his guitar, as his bassist brother Niels Kinsela and drummer Lloyd Hanney soon lock in with medium-tempo rock rhythms on tune after tune. The importance of dynamics to the music is paramount, as the tracks tend to gradually rise in intensity, a crescendo building to the midpoint, with the music then falling away and slowly building back up to the finish. Of course, anthems generally have words, but God Is an Astronaut's tunes manage to be stirring and inspiring without a voice to intone lyrics over them. Since there are no vocals, no virtuosic solos, no well-developed melodies, and no steady dance beats, the band gets its instrumental points across by mood, varying the power, volume, and pace within repetitive patterns. It will still sound to many listeners like a music-minus-one experience -- U2 without Bono, for example -- but that's the point. The God Is an Astronaut musicians are alternative rock purists intent on affecting their audience with the overall sound of their music alone.
Review by William Ruhlmann