24 October 2013

Exxasens - Satellites

A little while ago, I made a blog about the last Exxasens album 'Eleven Miles' - cleverly linked here - which discussed how I first heard about this band and their excellent album.  I did note the repetitive nature of the music, but as I said it was very enjoyable and I was looking forward to their next release.  Well boys and girls that time is upon us.  Currently available on their bandcamp and on general release (in the UK at least) from 28th October 2013, 'Satellites' is released onto the world.  When it comes to Post Rock I have a lot of time for songs to build and for letting the passage of music develop, this sort of music is not for people who want instant gratification and a short sharp kick.  The songs build the come to you in stages and ask for further attention.  So is this album a quality example of this genre (like the last album)?

Mixed and Produced at Nov-25-Studios, Sant Andreu, Exxa-Studios, Garcia & Whatabout Studio, Hospitalet by the band and Sergio Picon, with the mastering being done at Ultramarinos Costa Brava (Sant Feliu De Guixols) by Victor Garcia this album consists of 8 tracks which starts with the introduction "The Launching".  This is like an introduction to a concert and it will be very effective in a live show and is good at building the anticipation in the first track proper - "Rocket To The Sky".  A soaring piece of music, they hit the ground running here; the hook riff is kept simple and effective, the floating guitars to a minimum and the structure is very solid as well.  After this you have "Mass of Pluto" which keeps the pace up with its vortex of imagery and at times has a lot of Sigur Ros and Muse about it. 

Following on we have the title track of the album, and it is also the longest piece of music on this album at 11 minutes - possibly a nod to their last album?  Anyway, starting off with a simple drum beat, guitar strumming and keyboard trickery; this song is not for the toe tappers who want to have their bite sized moments in one go, it is for the people who want that moment of euphoria to be delivered in waves and moment throughout the song. At the one minute, thirty seconds mark when the first bridge kicks in I was a little worried that it might have tried to peak too soon.  This is not the case; it is just one of many moments in the song that give the audience that moment when they and the music can become one.  Yet it is not as if the song follows one pattern only, it changes and snakes to a returning hook which shows the band have gained a new level of maturity understanding.

So at the halfway point already and we enter the soft opening of "Sputnik" which despite being shorter than the title track has a more epic feel about it.  The guitar work and keyboard playing here just mesmerises me that I had to keep listening to this track on loop so I could finish writing the sentence - seriously I could get lost in this album for a long time. Which brings me to the almost industrial beginning that is "Arida" - upon first listening of this record it felt a little bit out of place in some ways; it is more harsh than the rest of the album (or it appeared to be so at the time), but the more I listened to it the more it made sense.  To the point where I now feel it is the stand out track of the album in its perfect little prism of joy and wonder.  After this is "Last Song Over The Horizon" which starts off with a countdown and then propels itself into the same waters as the opening two tracks, it is a return to a theme in the playing and it is beautifully done.  It does not feel forced or repetitive at all, it feels natural and in keeping with the album's overall vibe.  And finally we have "The Falling (Sin Outtro)" which gives the album closure starting with a mournful keyboard and strings that give way a brooding and powerful bridge (what else do you call a vocal-less chorus) that makes the hair on the back of my neck tingle with the way the music has taken me on a journey and the sample taken from live feeds of space flight make it more special.

To say this album is good is an understatement - it is properly spectacular and mesmerising.  It is an album that when I saw the track listing I was scared it might be a little short, but it is perfect in length.  It is not too long to get repetitive, and it is not too short to make you frustrated.  There is definitely a bigger prog influence on this album (whether it is by design or not is a different story) which lends to a greatly satisfactory listening experience.  I am blown away by how much the band have improved since their last record, for the second time in a week I feel like I have heard a brilliant piece of work.  It is making this year's album of the year compilation a hell of a lot harder, but this is definitely a contender.

9.5 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....

You can purchase the album from Amazon here (from 28th October) - MP3 version

Alternatively you can purchase the album from the band's Exxasens Bandcamp page here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

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