Sometimes, when you know, you know; you know? From 0:01 of Dust Moth’s Rising // Sailing, I knew. The guitar slide, the giant bwowww from the bass, it was all-but guaranteed this record was destined for some serious rotation, but what I didn’t expect was, well, everything else it had to offer. I had an “idea” of what I was getting into, but I didn’t anticipate how one second of post-metal would blossom into a full-blown art rock fucking experience like this. Now, I know the year is still young, but I am especially excited about sharing this one in its entirety with you because I got a pretty good hunch that Rising // Sailing will be hanging with many of you for quite some time to come (I know it will for me). And if I’m to be any kind of enjoyment barometer… well, when I know, I know; you know?
What struck me most after my first spin was how complete this record felt; it’s totally satiating. Dust Moth aren’t trying to prove anything with any flashy bullshit, but instead just kick out the slow and heavy jams with a deep understanding of where they want to go and how they want to get there. It’s the product of experienced musicians who are well beyond the experimentation phase of their creativity, ev-er-y-thing just sounds so dang good and in perfect measure. Their sound is unified with purpose, intent and attention to detail at each turn. To paint them broadly, they’ve coined an engaging hybrid of shoegaze, post-metal, and alt rock into something that’s been often approached but never quite executed or expanded to such a scale. Moreover, Rising // Sailing is as moving as it is engrossing, with undeniable shifts in momentum and mood, bringing to mind the captivating beauty of Vanishing Kids’ Heavy Dreamer as regularly as it does the fluid compositional strength of Bent Knee’s You Know What They Mean. It’s got that “album feel,” ya feel?
The arrangements take full advantage of the group’s disposition for intriguing dynamics, from the layered synth-driven builds leading up to enveloping swaths of guitars in “How to Sleep” to the bass-forward groove leading off “Melted Monuments” to the immense, howling leads that compliment the jagged, mathy crunch in “Everything Anew.” The perfectly brief “Flinching” even approaches some Deftones levels of dreaminess completed with surging guitars that convene in an invigorating chorus. Guitarist Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows) runs wild on this album, coloring in and out of the lines with a wide palette of effects and techniques, ensuring each track has a distinct feel without sacrificing coherence. Further, vocalist Irene Barber’s soulful delivery tethers listeners to an emotional reality while the instrumentation operates on this somnambulic plane where wild moments can pass as ordinary on one listen and become a curiosity on the next. Silence, space, and minimalism become points of interest thanks in no small part to Barber’s brilliant timbre, her voice is simultaneously subtle, sweet, strong, and assertive – a shepherd for all of Rising // Sailing’s ebbs and flows in both density and energy.
While it’s easy to fall back and immerse yourself in the comfort of Rising // Sailing’s blankets of heavy ‘gaze, there are heaps of angles, wiry passageways and waypoints that demand your attention, too. The rhythm section pulses with vivacity that finds inspiring grooves, splashy punches, and astute reservation, regularly putting listeners in a limbo between moment-to-moment concentration and the embrace of blissful trance states that stem from the lush swirls escaping their more subdued moments. The arrangements lend themselves to hit these beats consistently by making good use of space in the mix. This being said, it shouldn’t go without mention that the production here is incredible and allows a granular examination of each instrument – there’s great depth and scope to explore. As a result, Rising // Sailing becomes a place where guitars can scream from a distance to land as a whisper upon your ears; where warm, glassy synths and heavily affected guitars clash, melt together, and rebound with a lava lamp-like fluidity with a mesmeric ease; where melodies and rhythms lather into an unequivocally magical balance. It’s a real joy to be engrossed in this kind of dynamism and variety, it’s truly an auditory buffet. Throw on your best headphones, give your volume a nudge, and get lost in this one – you’ll be glad you did.
Rising // Sailing drops this Friday, March 12 via A Thousand Arms, be sure to pre-order some of that stunning wax (before it’s too late)!