Some records are made to be listened to in certain situations, sometimes regardless of their aim or conception but often because of it. Kraftwerk's Autobahn is an obvious example, and one which clicks, strangely enough, on almost deserted, dim-lamp lined motorways, deep into darkest night. Best of the recent examples of this would be Zombie Zombie's A Land For Renegades, which falls firmly into the mentioned aesthetic. Worriedaboutsatan's Arrivals should be filed here, too. Though a record which is lighter – less garish synth work, more delicate intricacies – than the aforementioned two, it's still one whose true character can only be shown when digesting at the right time, in the right place. It would be nearly a travesty and betrayal to absorb the minutiae of the Leeds electronica duo's début LP in anything close to daylight. At a watery dusk it still seems like an injustice is being done to a body of work which so clearly and ably soundtracks the nocturnal as much as it does the subconscious.
Throughout history, music – songs, albums, operas, concertos and every form otherwise – has mostly been about things that have happened. Arrivals is about things that don't happen, haven't happened and the anticipation of such – this is the crux. Elements of the post-rock ethos are present but don't fully infiltrate the sound. The art of tension building is one such element which does. The usual process which follows mounting tension is to then release the slack, cut back, do the staggeringly predictable – the quiet,quiet,quiet to LOUD ambience – but the experience of exaltation here is never anything but incremental.
'Pissing About' sees a Morse-code loop repeated to near-death with only the vaguest, slightest manipulations and additions to the surrounding sound. It's an incessant, almost musical metaphor for insomnia, as for six-and-a-half minutes the world seems to stop and allows you to refocus. Arrivals is not a confusing record but one which lets you to gather your thoughts rather than lose them.
Unlike close musical relatives and fellow eschewers of spacing, 65daysofstatic, nuances are what worriedaboutsatan rely upon. No such supersonic supernovae of crashing audio as a cloak against quality or variation of ideas. Nothing much happens on Arrivals, yet it is an album which is undoubtedly whole; more complete with each and every disconcerting listen. Drifting in and out of tension-inducing metallic sounding tracks is not novel but keeping a sustainable interest for an hour is done without ease. One thing which does fit to form of genre is the use of disembodied, distant voices which are horrifyingly clichéd wherever used, in any situation.
For reasons dipped into above, 'History Is Made At Night' is a fitting title. Elements of scatterbrain randomness a la Four Tet creep in before melding into 'You're In My Thoughts' elevating worriedaboutsatan to true purveyors of pulsating post-rock. The two genres remain well married throughout and are as much worriedaboutsatan's "sound" as anything.
The whole “post-rock without guitars” (yes, worriedaboutsatan do have guitars...) thing can be like saying “post-rock without the rock” but it sums up significant portions – if not most – of Arrivals. Yet there are always exceptions to boundaries which seem cut and dry but are knocked and chipped at by pioneers. It would smack more than faintly on hyperbole to say that this is a pioneering album, regardless of its qualities. I shan't waste any more words on what genre the sea of sound that is Arrivals fits into. Let's just call it an hour's worth of creepy, organic, nearly always-tension-building electronic ambience which certainly owes as much, if not more, to the hidden influences as the obvious ones.
8Luke Slater's Score