Until Sunrise – Until Sunrise

As a popular and increasingly crowded form of progressive music, the realm of post-rock has expanded far beyond it’s underground roots, now flowing into parts of the indie mainstream. Bands like Sigur Rós, Explosions In The Sky, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have all captured the hearts of listeners who otherwise wouldn’t have much to do with the prog rock scene. For it’s concentration on feeling and atmosphere over everything else, there have been legions of bands that have come to try their hand at fashioning some post-rock of their own; some going on to do beautiful things, but many falling into a passive state of mediocrity. Hailing from Maryland, young rockers Until Sunrise show a measure of promise beyond many of their peers, and although this charming debut album has a fair deal of flaws to it’s name, there’s the undeniable feeling that with a little extra polish, this talented act could do amazing things.

Throughout the course of this self-titled release, Until Sunrise cycles through sounding like alot of the giants that made the genre so popular to begin with. While the sound here isn’t incredibly unique however, Until Sunrise impresses with some very keen performing skills. Keeping in mind that at the time of recording this, the ages of the musicians ranges from 18 to as low as 13 years, the fact that such young artists can put a cohesive piece of work together is a feat all it’s own. Each musician here is very inspired at playing his respective instrument. On a particularly impressive note is the skilled percussive work of Sam Dorsey, who for such a young musician, earns alot more emphasis and attention for his work than many other established drummers in post-rock. The guitar and bass work here is a bit more conventional for the genre, but very well done. Soaring guitar atmospherics of Joe Dorsey tear through the sound, being held down tightly by the catchy bass playing of Tanner Beard.

The songwriting here ranges from decent to excellent. The Sigur Rós-style ambiance of ‘Sunset’ is a beautiful opener to the album, and leads in well to ‘Pink,’ which despite being ten minutes long, is the most catchy track here and most accessible, thanks in no small part to the sensible bass work. ‘Midnight’ is a pretty typical post-rock track, but packs some nice guitar beauty into the four minutes. Next is by far the most energetic and peppy track; ‘Insomnia.’ Here, the pumped up speed doesn’t work quite as well as the reflective pace of the other tracks, and while being an interesting dose of caffeine in the album, there are a few issues with the playing here that detracts from the composition itself.

Anyone who has looked at the track listing and song lengths will instantly have their attention caught by the existence of a twenty three minute long epic thrown into the middle of the album. While the prospect of such a long (and hopefully involving) piece is obviously exciting, the reality is that ‘As The City Quietly Sleeps…’ did seem to do what the title suggests; it lulled with into a drowsy state. While the epic has a few very powerful sections (particularly the grandiose finale), the track doesn’t really feel like a cohesive piece, and may have been better off dividing into smaller songs, or doing without the less important sections of the track. ‘As The City’ does leave off on a good note however; the last few minutes are greeted by the introduction of some very nice violin flourishes which add to the epic feel that seemed to be lacking throughout a fair deal of the track.

Following an epic is generally a very difficult task for a song to accomplish. Ironically, the short interlude that follows doesn’t only merit more love from me than the epic it trails, it is without a doubt, my most loved piece on the album. Wearing the influence of avant-garde metal legends maudlin of the Well on their sleeve, Until Sunrise fashions an acoustic interlude that truly would not sound out of place as an interlude on one of Maudlin’s albums. With an organic production quality that seems to evade the rest of the album, it seems clear that if Until Sunrise continues to delve out pieces of quality like ‘A Maudlin Interlude,’ they will eventually have a masterpiece on their hands.

The next two tracks seem to follow the acoustically-tinged sound that was introduced by the interlude. While not as impressive, they incorporate the acoustic sound very well into the mix, leading towards the final piece on the album, ‘Nostalgic Moment.’ With some beautifully piano work and plenty of Devin Townsend-like ambiance, the track does well to finish the album.

While the album is generally enjoyable throughout, the biggest issue that ‘Until Sunrise’ faces is the production itself. Not that the quality of recording decides whether a piece of music is ‘great’ or not, but the production values here are very inconsistent throughout the album, which can lead to some confusion. While the first track works perfectly in both the way it is performed and recorded, some of the tracks that follow have a muddied production sound, which makes the heavier, distorted sections of the album incredibly noisy to the point of being throwaway. What makes this production issue confusing is that some sections of the album sound much more professional than others. For example, while sections of ‘Insomnia’ do retain quite a bit of the amateur execution, ‘Sunset’, ‘Sunrise’ and especially ‘A Maudlin Interlude’ sound perfect for what they are. But as it is, each song seems to have different production values under it’s belt, which sounds to me like the album may need a good case of remastering.

As it stands however, Until Sunrise has crafted an impressive indie recording with their debut. While post-rock does seem to be an increasingly tired style of music, this band definitely deserves recognition for their work, and despite not having found a unique voice for themselves yet, each member of the band proves through their skill that they have what it takes to make a real mark on the scene.

Tracklist:

1. Sunset (5:58)
2. Pink (10:16)
3. Midnight (5:00)
4. Insomnia (7:07)
5. As the City Quietly Sleeps: (23:06)
a. Monolith (9:24)
b. Storm Over the Sea (2:38)
c. After This Life (10:51)
6. A Maudlin Interlude (2:44)
7. Sunrise (5:18)
8. First Signs of Summer (1:51)
9. Nostalgic Moment (8:33)

Line-up:

* Joe Dorsey – Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, Synth, Samples, Bells, Harmonica, Trombone, Production
* Tanner Beard – Bass, Ambiance
* Sam Dorsey – Drums

With:

* David Glaze – Ambiant Guitars, Ebow on tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 9. Solo on Pink
* Sayre Posey – Violin on “After This Life”

Links:

http://www.myspace.com/untilsunrisemd

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