And So I Watch You From Afar… released their fifth studio album on October 20th, 2017. The Endless Shimmering comes after their 2015 album, Heirs, and their 2013 release and when I first heard them, All Hail Bright Futures. ASIWYFA as they will be referred to in this article, are one of my favourite go-to pump up bands. Their music, while predominantly instrumental, is powered by melodic riffs on the guitar and dynamic explosiveness from the rhythm section.
The first word that comes to my mind as far as ASIWYFA lyrics is “Wooo!” closely followed by any other excited “Ha!” – see BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION. This song to me remains the essence of ASIWYFA. If you want to know what they sound like in a single song if you want a near six-minute litmus test for if you will like what they’re selling, start here.
Six years later, The Endless Shimmering contains the ferocious energy of their earlier albums and blends in some of the moderation that comes with age. The quiet sections are no longer breathers before the next heavy section. Instead, they have become focal points in their own right.
It’s hard to infer emotional intent without vocals, there isn’t some angry young person with a microphone in hand airing their grievances at an injustice. No heartbroken lover opening themselves up through their lyrics. Now imagine those same two scenarios ten years later. They’re a bit less raw, they’ve become more complex and subtle in their message. Now picture those same scenarios with only the music to tell you their stories. That’s what The Endless Shimmering feels like.
There is nothing revolutionary on this album, this is a band who know what they do well and have done it. Each album gets a little less raw, a little more refined. The Endless Shimmering remains a fun, lively and riff-heavy release.
Originally I had intended on doing a track by track review of this album. I took the easy option by not doing so, saved myself from potentially hours reading a thesaurus looking for different words to describe the same thing.
Each of the songs on the album has very obviously shared DNA. Nine kids that look different enough to be identified but unmistakably from the same parents and being chauffered around in the same minibus.
The production on the album is quite good, there are no obvious complaints or criticisms. The cacophony of instruments are well balanced with the listener’s attention being drawn where it needs to be at the appropriate time. Musically there is so much going on at times that this deserves special credit for being so subtle. The guitar tones and bass tones are at times deliberately ugly and it makes the tracks so much more memorable. Terrors of Pleasure, for example, features a few bars of guitar that sound like a swarm of bees in a megaphone. Mike Vennart would love it.
The performances are spot on, yet have that raw edge that is processed out of a lot of modern rock. You can tell that this is a band who write their music, rehearse it, record it and then spend the next few years touring it.
The album artwork is a step away from the martian landscapes of Heirs and the technicolour explosions of All Hail Bright Futures. A colleague of mine thought the cover art was a photo of my daughter and dog, not an album I was listening to. It’s memorable and so very anti-metal. It’s grown on me.
As I suggested earlier previously, BEAUTIFULUNIVERSEMASTERCHAMPION is the litmus test. If you like it, ASIWYFA are a band that you will get a lot of enjoyment out of, The Endless Shimmering is no exception. There is no real entry point to the album, so start at the start and let it take you places for 44 minutes. With that said, Chrysalism is an excellent closer finally lifting the foot off the accelerator to bookend the album and experience perfectly.