2018 was a wild and exciting year for post-rock with just an incredible number of high-profile releases and unexpectedly fantastic ones. One that came on our radars mid-year though and never left was Sondersongs by LA-based post-rock quintet Whale Fall. Mixing lush, contemplative and horn-filled instrumental compositions with more driving, groove-based post-, the band manages to hit many sweet spots for us here in post- world.
So it’s with great excitement and anticipation that we get to be part of the band launching new music into the world today. On March 27, Whale Fall will release their fourth album, It Will Become Itself. That artwork you see above is not some horribly down-res’d version that PR sent us. That is the actual artwork. What it means and its blurriness signifies I cannot say, but here is what I can tell you about the upcoming album. It is a much looser, improvisation-inspired album, but one that still retains all of the beauty and punch of their previous work. Think of a mixture of the pastoral and horn/string-filled work of Do Make Say Think blended with the psychedelic improvised compositions of Grails, of course all filtered through Whale Fall’s own unique voice.
The “track” we’re sharing today is actually only part of a track, as much of the album is comprised of longer-form songs. This excerpt is from “El Caracol,” the second song of the album. It very much represents the more fluid and welcoming part of this music before things get a bit more raucous elsewhere. But it’s nothing but gorgeous and instantly listenable.
Here is what the band have to say about the album:
We inadvertently recorded this album, titled It Will Become Itself, the evening of June 4, 2018, during one of the rare times all five of us were in Los Angeles. We had a few basic ideas we wanted to try out and, per our usual procedure, launched into a mutual improvisation, which we recorded as nothing more than a reference for further composition and arranging. After the session we all agreed that this was a particularly good take and would be valuable for a future project.
While going through the archives several months later, we rediscovered the nearly-forgotten recording from that night. We were surprised at what we heard: here was an entire record in embryonic form, recorded in a single 38-minute take. The consonance and connection of the playing caught our attention. Absent the self-consciousness that goes along with recording an album or even playing a show, we had cut loose and just let things flow. The musical negotiations gave rise to some unexpected and beautiful moments. The imperfections added rather than taking away.
We decided to take this roughly recorded session and apply some polish. Gradually, over the course of a year, we shaped the finished album out of this single take. A couple of the very talented musicians we have collaborated with in the past came through with some stunning improvisations of their own. Finally, we added a short piano piece that had also been recorded spontaneously without intention of release. As the title track, “It Will Become Itself” can be considered both a prelude and prologue to the two longer improvised album sides. The resulting album is intended as a single continuous piece of music in five movements. The title arose during a conversation with a friend about the creative process and seemed an apt description of how the album came to be.
This far less methodical approach to composition was a departure from the more structured recording studio sessions of our previous records, and a fortuitous chance to continue pursuing new creative pathways and song forms. There was no roadmap for this album, and we were willing to accept the imperfections that come along with spontaneity. The music recorded that June night was only a moment in time, but we’re excited to share what we’ve been able to distill from it.
Whatever you take away from this, let me assure you. This album is stunning. You are going to want to hear the entire thing many times over.
It Will Become Itself will be released digitally on March 27, at which point vinyl pre-orders will also be available. Check out Whale Fall’s Bandcamp when the time comes for all purchasing info.