Low Roar — ross. (Nov 8, 2019)
Σ••θ Lze s jistotou říci, že navzdory tonálnímu posunu k pastorálnímu folku (myslím píseň „In The Morning“ z alba „0“ (2014)) jsou Low Roar na svém vrcholu, když tento styl spojí s kreativní elektronickou atmosférou a živými mosaznými dechy — a naštěstí jsou to všechno věci, které jsme slyšeli spoustu skrz~naskrz po celé délce alba „ross“. Všemu dominuje líbezný zpěv (Ryan Karazija), cinkání, flétny. Album bylo nahráno pouze s notebookem v Ryanově kuchyni v Reykjavíku v důsledku velmi nízkého rozpočtu po přesunu na Island. Klobouk dolů! Jedno z best alb roku 2019.
Location: Oakland ~ raised and Warsaw, Poland ~ Reykjavik, Iceland
Album release: Nov 8, 2019
Record Label: Tonequake Records
01 Darkest Hour 3:00
02 Slow Down 3:52
03 H.A.F.H. 4:16
04 I’ll Make You Feel 5:57
05 Not Around 5:16
06 222 3:51
07 Feel Like Dying 3:11
08 The Machine 5:38
09 Blue Eyes 2:03
10 Empty House 5:04
℗ 2019 Tonequake Records
Review by SowingSeason STAFF, November 9th, 2019. Score: 4.5
Review Summary: Prepare to have your breath taken away — again.
••› ross. floats by swiftly and delicately. The atmosphere conjures all scenic imagery — beginning with the tranquil mooring cove on the cover and ending with ‘Empty House’s triumphant horns blaring as the album is whisked away into the sunset. Shimmering acoustics and indie~folk influences now preside over their less conspicuous post~rock counterparts.
••› Compared to previous efforts, particularly the monumental sixty~eight~minute 0, Low Roar’s latest clocks in at a rather trim forty~two minutes. In general, everything about ross. feels a little more sleek and tidy. It’s the most conventional album we’ve heard by Low Roar’s standards, which is neither a criticism nor a compliment; it’s just different. Whereas 0 was likely to draw comparisons to Sigur Ros and Radiohead, ross. comes closer to intersecting with Fleet Foxes or Destroyer. That isn’t to say that there aren’t still some post~rock inspired pinnacles; the tide has merely shifted away from elaborate, far~reaching soundscapes and settled into a valley of dreamy, lush folk. ross., for being comparatively scaled back, is easily the richest sounding piece that Low Roar has ever crafted.
••› There’s an overarching crystalline elegance that polishes the record in a stunning glaze — each song acting as a still~frame extracted from a larger moment. Slow builds to brass/orchestral breakthroughs color these tracks with shades of Kaputt (the regal trumpets across the back halves of ‘H.A.F.H.’ and ‘Slow Down’ are particularly compelling), while the predominant acoustics and vocal~centric melodies of tunes such as ‘Not Around’ or ‘Feel Like Dying’ lend the album a slight air of Helplessness Blues. Some of the more surprising moments come when ross. expands upon the electronic elements that 2017’s Once in a Long, Long While started to explore. ‘I’ll Make You Feel’ is the first of such instances, swelling with optimism atop flourishing synths and classical pianos that continually rise in intensity until they’re intertwined within a beautiful wall of sound that includes subtle electronic flickers and distantly exploding fireworks. It’s the kind of moment you might get down on one knee to. ‘The Machine’ is the other big electronic moment here, and, despite being rather depressing (the refrain is “we don’t stand a chance”) it’s arguably even better — featuring an eerie robotic voice and aqueous~sounding keyboard synths to form one of the most stunning outros in the band’s entire catalog. It’s safe to say that despite the tonal shift towards pastoral folk (think ‘In The Morning’ from 2014’s 0), Low Roar are at their peak when they fuse that style with creative electronic atmospheres and lively brass horns — and fortunately, these are all things that we hear plenty of throughout ross.
••› If there’s an outlier among the bunch it is the penultimate ‘Blue Eyes’, which is a quaint, hushed, and dizzying two minute ballad that combines fuzzy synths and fluttering strings with a tale of sweeping, transient romance: Baby quit looking at me with those God damn blue eyes…I’ll see you in the next. It’s more than an interlude but not quite a full~blown song; whatever it is, it’s hauntingly beautiful. The record then concludes in grandiose fashion, culminating in an orchestral explosion halfway through ‘Empty House’ — a moment unpredictable enough to make you look back and question what kind of album ross. even is. Sure, it deftly weaves between indie~folk, electronics, and baroque jazz on a song~by~song basis, but it’s almost still post~rock on a macro scale — commencing with the hushed acoustics of ‘Darkest Hour’ and eventually resolving itself in the crescendo of its opposite bookend. ross.’s curtain~call adds a flair of creativity during the album’s waning moments, while offering food for thought and a reason to start the whole experience over again from the beginning.
••› Low Roar is a group that has evolved over the course of each release, whether it’s the humble, cozy folk of the self~titled debut, the more expansive post~rock leanings of 0, or the electronic infusion that occurred on Once in a Long, Long While. ross. sees them roll all these influences together, while also taking a turn towards accessible track lengths and gleaming indie~folk atmospheres (albeit with no shortage of beautiful accents and jaw~dropping aesthetics). It will make you want to sail the ocean at sunset, go stargazing from a city rooftop, or embark upon a long walk on a foggy morning. Low Roar has always maintained those very natural, earthy undercurrents in their music, and it’s a motif that continues in plenty on their fourth full~length endeavor. If Low Roar is a product of life’s most beautiful moments, then each album they’ve created is a series of snapshots taken along the way. With ross., prepare to have your breath taken away — again.