It was only last week when I shared with you some of my most emotional moments of 2018. I started that post by talking about despair and musical works which seem to envelop you in this emotion, wringing you clean of tears and pain. If I allow myself to expand my scope beyond just this year, there are several albums which elicited this response from me to a far great degree than anything else; one of them, perhaps the most gut-wrenching of them all, was A Swarm of the Sun‘s The Rifts. All along its somber runtime the album, composed of chilling pianos, brutally evocative vocals, and crushing crescendos, dug deeper and deeper into places of despair, denial, and defeat. It was a journey like no other, one which I still take from time to time today, when I’m looking to scratch that very specific, and very dark, itch.
Today, we’re proud to say that we’re premiering the first track from their upcoming 2019 release, The Woods. The track is called “Blackout” and it’s a lot. No, really, it’s a lot. Featuring a more stripped down and ambient style than even the already dispersed The Rifts, “Blackout” is an exploration of internal, winter landscapes and the feeling of loss and loneliness that can infect them. Head on down below to stream it.
Drawing on a sparse guitar line throughout as the main thread, “Blackout” features a slowly building ensemble of static, synths, and other effects to create its mood, building up for over eight minutes before guitars more reminiscent of Mono‘s work Rays of Darkness announce the final part of the track. The key to keeping this track together and, indeed, the entire album is that the buildup is not “just” noise. If you listen carefully, you’ll be able to hear the different permutations cobble themselves together into the main themes which are later introduced during the more prominent and cohesive pay-off the track. That pay-off comes in the form of repeating iterations composed in a classic post-rock/metal fashion, reminding us of Tangled Thoughts of Leaving‘s No Tether from earlier in the year. But they have the signature A Swarm of the Sun feel to them, both in the mumbled production of the drums and the way each chord crashes and builds on the other as the track slouches towards its ending to die/be born.
The track taken as a whole then feels like an image of a forest or copse of woods as you approach it slowly, in your car perhaps, more and more details coming to light until the murky picture of the whole coalesces in your field of vision. The album, perhaps not incidentally titled The Woods, releases on the 11th of January, 2019, via Version Studio Records. Make sure to pre-order it right here; it’s set to be one of the most emotionally devastating releases of next year.