This Is Your Captain Speaking


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This Is Your Captain Speaking's debut album, Storyboard, is somewhat of an anomaly in the world of instrumental rock. Despite being recorded live in a primary school library (the captured voices of school children resound throughout the seven tracks), this Australian three-piece summons emotions both somber and elated, and exposes vast sonic vistas with the simplest of rock instrumentation and a restrained hand. The 18-minute opener, "Gathering Pieces," starts on a gentle note, just two clean guitars warily circling each other, sizing each other up for nearly four minutes before the drums, which at first are only soft mallets on toms, come in. Then a motif is established, one guitar chiming in echospace, the other providing washes of color and texture, the rhythm becoming more assertive and adding forward momentum via the cymbals. And so it goes for a slow build, and then stops and rebuilds again at the halfway point, never really getting above a volume level that would distract a conversation if it weren't for the rich, intertwined guitar work commanding attention. Perhaps that's whole the point: to draw the listener in without the device of ham-fisted dynamics and excessive effects pedals. Explosions in the Sky this ain't. The whole of the album maintains a sonic palette that is stark and glacial in its beauty, with shades of gray, white and ice blue (standouts include the wistful "A Wave to Bridget Fondly" and the elegiac "Weathered"), and although it fits nicely in the post-rock canon alongside Godspeed You Black Emperor! and their ilk, it maintains its own identity through its unique modus operandi, that of infinite patience and restraint, of gradual tension and release, rather than the melodramatic Sturm und Drang of their brethren.

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