A couple of days before July’s midpoint, amongst the usual bills and promotional leaflets, I received two packages - one from Kensington, London and one from Luxembourg. One of these CDs had been released on the 3rd of April (click), while one was to be released on the 24th of July. However, both came from bands based in Richmond, Virginia and their material bared, at least on the surface, quite a resemblance.
’Kneel’, the debut UK single from The Silent Type, poses a question: how many times can the epic quiet-loud-quiet post-rock formula be repeated before it becomes nothing more than formulaic? By now, surely, it’s a given that the banality that pioneers of the movement attempted to escape, through explorations into length and depth, has caught up with the modern-day purveyors?
Those that have heard_ ‘Kneel’_ know the answer's obvious: a resounding no. Sure, the reverb-soaked guitar pirouettes that raise the track's curtain have danced around the hairs on the back of your neck many times before, and the weeping violin sweeps have reduced you to tears so many times that you already have a pack of Kleenex at hand while your foot hits an invisible distortion pedal at the right time on first listen, but rarely has passing through quiet to loud, from orchestral to pulsating, been so effortless.
This passage is helped to a great extent by the vocal pairing of Nathan Altice and Amber Blankenship. Nathan takes the role of lead, guiding Amber’s serene lulls behind his harrowing murmurs. Neither flutter above a whisper, but there's no need: their voices soar even when almost silent.
The b-side, 'Stones, Knives and Curses', is a less-relaxed, more up-tempo affair, with strummed chords replacing lazily plucked strings and floor-toms rising up the sweeping cymbals of its predecessor. Still, though, it chooses to not veer far from its flipside, and at just over four minutes is an apt accompaniment while not having the strength to stand alone as a lead track.
Through both songs there are no signs of complacency and little treading on the footprints of others. As long as post-rock can be conjured in such a breathless, epic form as this, then it will be a long time before its death knell rings out.
8Jordan Dowling's Score