Texas instrumental group Driving Sluggish Movement prides itself on delivering “cascading dynamics and atmospheric melodies” to spark “a surreal sonic expertise that each captivates and entrances.” Influenced by revered acts like Explosions within the Sky and Sigur Rós, the quintet—Carter Stark (bass), Dustin Weaver (drums), and Bryan Freymuth, Jason Reed, and Nick Valdez (guitars)—efficiently crafts atmospheric and emotional aural worlds on their debut LP, Arda. Nonetheless, the sequence is usually too empty and monotonous, dragging out minimal concepts past their usefulness as a substitute of mixing a number of into fewer but extra substantial items.
Combined by Mike Watts (Glassjaw, The Dillinger Escape Plan), Arda (whose title comes from “the identify given to Earth… in J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings legendarium”) is impressed by the band’s particular person and communal introspective “journey[s].” Every monitor certainly conveys robust feelings—starting from sorrow to anger—with various levels of complexity and depth. Whereas that makes almost every one particular in its personal approach, the cumulative impact runs the gamut from hypnotic life-affirmation to distancing tedium.
A few of Arda’s finest passages are its quietest. Opener “Far From Dwelling,” as an illustration, is sparse but brooding, with mild percussion, primordial results, echoed guitar notes, and affective childlike chirps making a softly devastating setting. Granted, it does get bleaker and rougher close to the tip (hanging a positive steadiness a la Alcest at their most temperamentally transcendental), but it surely’s largely a colorless and vacant affair. Later, “Of the Sea” channels Agalloch by scattering creative drumming all through its meditatively wistful guitar strums and subtly feisty bass strains. As for the penultimate “Hallowed Hills,” it successfully ushers in a sense of delicate catharsis after a tumultuous and extended expertise.
After all, the report additionally intrigues throughout its heavier and extra elaborate passages. A sluggish apocalyptic construct, “The Method the World Was” finally rises to a cascade of gutsy syncopation and interlocking six-string chaos. All of the whereas, Stark retains it absorbing by way of his easy but melodic contributions. Correspondingly, “In Trade For a Reminiscence” is a dreamlike hodgepodge of chic asides, panicked ferocity, and even some digital beats. Maybe one of the best of those, nonetheless, is “Shadow & Flame (The Deep Pt. I)” as a result of its hopelessly morose soundscapes (within the guise of Godspeed You! Black Emperor however with much less house between the disarray).
These positives however, many of the compositions on Arda would profit from both shorter durations or extra occurring inside these durations. Both approach, there’s numerous untapped potential when it comes to making every second rely, as a number of motifs are established nicely sufficient however are by no means actually developed or spiced up sufficiently. That is very true on “Home windows in a Stone Wall,” “Laurelin,” and nearer “The Daybreak Voyage,” all of which comprise engrossing sparks that by no means burn as absolutely or brightly as they may. Quite, they’re merely prolonged origins of profundity that by no means get to go any additional.
Taken in a single sitting, Arda is a little bit of a dreary chore; but, it nonetheless leaves sufficient of an impression to stick with you and cement Driving Sluggish Movement as a promising newcomer inside the style. Granted, albums like this work finest in sure areas—mentally and bodily—so your mileage could fluctuate. In any case, there are hints of greatness scattered across the sequence, so right here’s hoping that the quintet absolutely unleashes it on the follow-up.
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