Were it not for the fact that Explosions in the Sky scored the soundtrack to the TV series Friday Night Lights, post-rock bands like Albany’s lastdayshining would probably get more readily compartmentalized as self-indulgent, artsy instrumental acts. But since that “cinematic” quality of such acts was actually used in a cinematic context, it seems to have made a little peace between bands who process heavy emotional content in a wordless way and audiences that are used to being told rather than shown.
The Patchwork, lastdayshining’s first album since their 2008 debut and subsequent lineup adjustments, harnesses that orchestral approach to the rock-band formula, packing all of post-rock’s time-tested tropes into six tracks (and one hidden one, shhh!). This is guitar music for guitarists who would rather take the whole band with them on the journey up the fretboard, rather than slash their way through it. So it’s no coincidence that pioneers like Sigur Ros and Godspeed You! Black Emperor have made the form a test case for collectivist politics. The six-piece band feature no fewer than three electric guitars on every track, often assigning bass duties to the baritone guitar, and what results is a progression of nested riffs, each assigned its proper headphone space.
Patience is the key to this kind of stuff, while histrionics can be its undoing. Hushed preludes build to epic crescendos, where thunderous drumming puntuates frenzied tremolo-picked guitar. It’s important for the band to savor these peaks without exploiting them, as they do on opener “Kismet,” drawing back halfway in to begin a second ascent. Cuddle ballads like “Prelude in D” tastefully offset the harder-rocking, prog-oriented material, like “The Moments We Will Cherish”—a tricky balance given the range of emotional territory that seperates the two. The real test comes at the height of “Kappa,” though, where anthemic oh-oh-oh’s mark the only appearance of the human voice. If you can’t help but shout along, you’ll know the band have done their job.