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The Moirai, A Northern Chorus, and An End to October…

Posted on Monday, March 20th, 2006 @ 9:45am » permalink

The Moirai - Bury YourselfI foolishly slept on buying this one until the very end of last year when it had already been out for three months or so, and it took me another three months to finally get around to posting about it. Of course, very sadly the band had already called it quits when this EP hit the streets thanks to Engineer Records, but that doesn't change the fact that it's an excellent piece of work.

The Moirai was from New Jersey and 3/4 of their lineup had come from the incredible Penfold (who I posted about some time ago). Contrary to how it usually goes these days, "Bury Yourself" is billed as EP, yet its eight tracks clock in at 40 minutes total!? Go figure. But this material continues in a very similar direction to that of Penfold, though not quite as musically dynamic, so the brilliantly emotional vocal performance really does an amazing job of carrying the bulk of the material. Make no mistake, there's definitely some wonderful music that ebbs and flows back and forth, but for the most part the instrumentation tends to dwell much more on the relaxed and somber side of things, with an emphasis on clean guitars and tactful smatterings of keyboards in spacious passages that have a lot of breathing room. On the other hand, the singing fluctuates much more drastically throughout the tracks, and totally nails it in the process, so I'm quite fond of the vocals here. But I knew this would be a winner, and at their best these guys create some incredibly moving compositions.

The Moirai "Crucifixion as an Art Form"
The Moirai "Water is the New Fire"

Fitting lyrics, as well:

Hold on, hold on to everything you have. Hold on, hold on to anything, I'm begging you. And somehow we're still living in the same space and lying awake at night. I'm dying to tell you, you gave up.

In the end, The Moirai only existed for two years, and this was their only release. I'm not sure what any of the former members are doing right now, but these bastards are just too god damn talented not to continue making music in some manner or another. Regardless, the EP is only $8 and I highly recommend it, so go get it:

@ Engineer Records

A Northern Chorus - Bitter Hands ResignI'm not entirely sure why this just showed up in my mailbox a couple of weeks ago, because I think this record has been out for almost a year at this point, but while I wasn't sure what to expect, for some reason I figured I'd enjoy it (perhaps it was the handsomely designed packaging on matte stock, I don't know), and indeed that is the case. A Northern Chorus hails from Canada, and "Bitter Hands Resign" is their third full-length (released by Sonic Unyon ), though despite the name being familiar I believe this is the first time I've heard them.

For the most part these folks seem to go with kind of a soft/softer/softest kind of thing that'll start to surge forth on rare occasion, but while such styles seem to be rapidly increasing in popularity these days, thankfully this band stays away from the Explosions in the Sky method of bursting out with increased volume/heaviness and droning effects over intense picking patterns. Don't get me wrong, I love that stuff sometimes, but there are just way too many bands falling back on that kind of thing right now, so while there are admittedly a couple of areas herein that hint at that stuff, the way it's handled fits the tone of the compositions and really works well with the vocals and some of the noisier lead work that rears its head during a few special circumstances. Overall, though, the album tends to stick with laidback atmospheres and lush layering while still keeping things warm and natural – allowing plenty of space for each element to be heard. What buildups do exist are pretty gradual, so there's none of that jarring volume contrast or anything going on. The songs regularly top six minutes, and the eight tracks total just about 50 minutes when all is said and done, so it can start to feel a little slow paced as it presses on – to the point where I wouldn't mind a smidge more balance coming from the louder end of the spectrum, but this is a really relaxing listen that has a brooding undercurrent that carries over into the lyrics as well (though not without a hopeful sort of twist):

Hang on to everything dear. Keep what's yours near. Trust do not fear. Angels are on their way out, they're on their way out. They'll lead us through the darkness to the right place.

A Northern Chorus "This Open Heart"

Good stuff. As always, if this is something you enjoy, purchase a copy for yourself:

@ Amazon.com

An End to October - Dividing the TideAnd last but not least, we have the rather impressive self-released debut from Mississippi's An End to October, "Dividing the Tide". The band formed in 2001, and I have to say, not only is it rare for a band to wait over four years to release an album these days, but I'm shocked that these guys haven't gotten signed yet, because this is quite a strong offering that seems like it could do very well for any number of labels at the moment.

Apparently the band has garnered comparisons to everyone from Refused and Faith No More to Isis and At the Drive-In, but personally I'd have to argue with pretty much all of those claims. Okay, they use a lot of keyboards and they use them well, so I guess you could stretch that into an extremely distant Faith No More tie-in. And there are a couple of quirky, "hip" sounding moments that, if you wanted to, you could probably parallel with Refused. And when some of those "hip" elements get more angular and indie-ish, ehhh, maybe a little At the Drive-In. And I guess since there are some heavy moments… maybe uninformed indie rock kids would jump towards Isis for that? I don't know, but the point is that none of those comparisons are accurate at all. I wouldn't really compare them to anyone, because there's a ton going on, and they pull it off in a way that actually maintains an energetic delivery without sounding jumbled or overly chaotic. There's some sweet jazziness to a lot of the drumming, the guitars are all over the map from dissonant metalcore and thicker power chords to emo-ish melodies and rocked out indie flare, the bass kind of bounces back and forth between it all to maintain prominence, and the vocals are about as schizophrenic as the guitars in terms of flying from singing to shouting or screaming without a second thought. But I love the vocals, and the songwriting is generally pretty damn interesting, too. Hell, even the keyboards work for me, and my ears are dangerously picky when it comes to certain types of keyboard work, so I don't know how these cats pull it off.

Since there is such a great deal happening here, the recording does lose some detail on occasion, but it still sounds very solid for a self-released effort of this nature. I'm certainly able to imagine the band sounding pretty incredible were they able to secure a nice recording budget to really iron this stuff out, but… even still, they're doing a great job. Assuming they're looking for label support, if they don't get scooped up within the year then most record labels are indeed fucking idiots that have no idea what good music sounds like anymore. Give these guys a listen even if you don't think you'll like it, you might really be surprised:

An End to October "Virus Bay"
An End to October "Besieged"

If you dig it, help these guys out and pick up a CD for $10, alright? This is quite a creative disc…

@ CD Baby

2 Comments...

  1. Jonathan says:

    Awesome post, I loved Penfold and I it's good to see someone else that dug The Moirai EP.

    I dug that Northern Chorus record quite a bit. It was a toss up to make my year end top 20 for 2005. Some people tried to pass it off as shoegaze or dream pop, however I think it does fit the mold of Explosions in the Sky or bands like that much more. It's an awesome record though.

  2. Ryan says:

    I picked up that Moirai ep after your post about Penfold a while ago, great CD. That End to October is awesome too. I also just wanna say that all the bands you post about are always awesome.