Moving Structures – Awake

Released in the middle of 2016, Awake, the debut album from Los Angeles-based Moving Structures, is a concept album that begins with a burial at sea and ends with an ascension to a higher plane. Whoa!

From the website:-

“The album tells the story through the perspective of the one being buried, and the listener is musically guided through the emotions and memories of the subject as the coffin descends to the bottom of the deepest part of the ocean. Along the way, flashes to the past (The Siege, Becoming the Executioner), present (Burial, The Last of Light & Love), and future (Seven Miles to Sleep, Apotheosis) take the listener on a journey unlike any that can be expressed through words.”

As this suggests, Moving Structures are an instrumental band, playing progressive post-rock which utilises sampling and electronics, their live shows striving to be full audio-visual experiences through the use of atmospheric lighting. But what is the record like when taken on its own merits?

Burial is a powerfully sedate piece of sparse treated piano that immediately sets out the stall as widescreen and atmospheric, bass voices adding a mournful choral tone. Anthropomarphism sees guitars sweep in, there’s an air of Pink Floyd about it, the intensity building on cymbal splashes as the bass locks things down.

These two short pieces open things up for Dusk, a bass melody emerging as guitars wind around it. The arpegiated guitar technique that becomes a feature of much of the album appears for the first time, subsequently being used as a major part of the more aggressive The Siege and energetic The Last of Light & Love. The bass, drums and two guitars line-up works very well and all of the players get the space they require, the basic quartet often playing without any extraneous electronic effects to give a nice “live” sound.

Like the first track, atmospheric asides are scattered through the album, like Invisible Giants and Vast. Cold. Lonesome., an unexpectedly delicate piece of plucked strings. These shorter pieces change the texture and tone, expanding the vistas with treated sounds and adding greatly to the range of the music that makes Awake such a successful whole.

A feature of Moving Structures’ music is the prominence given to the bass in promoting the melodic intent of the band, in tandem with the guitars, as in the theme which emerges elegantly from bass chording in the second half of The Last of Light & Love, then expanded through soloing guitars and power chords. As a change of direction, Hadalpelagic presents a harsh-edged punk ethos – with an element of Bob Mould – that works very well, with fuzz bass to the fore. A more progressive tone emerges later as the guitars duet, but the buzzing of the bass, growling away like an angry dog, keeps the piece rooted in its original form and makes for a fine listen. In response, Seven Miles to Sleep is an otherworldly drift of echoes and sustained guitars, from which an intricate pattern of Tool influenced bass and guitar emerge over treated percussion. It’s quite mesmerising and a very clever way to follow Hadalpelagic.

The last three tracks are all lengthy, allowing the band to stretch out, from the melodic bass intro of Becoming the Executioner which becomes a full-on rock-out built on guitar solos and repeated phrases. Quite metal at times, swirling and hypnotic at others, the sound here is BIG as it sweeps to a massive climax. Anthropomorphism gets a much expanded and beautifully realised second part as the penultimate track, a modern take on the jam band/space rock aesthetic of the extended live instrumental that holds its own for the entire length, before sliding into Apotheosis, an electronic soundtrack for the afterlife that ties the story up. It’s a brave move away from the core of the album with which to end but it works, a beautiful and relaxed drift into eternity.

Moving Structures have created an album of instrumental scenes that bear repeated listens, Awake maintaining the interest through a number of emotional and musically well-structured pieces. I have been listening to this album a lot over the last few months and there is still plenty to explore. There’s intensity, delicate melodies, wall of sound power and creative soundscaping. Highly recommended for lovers of rhythmic instrumentalism with a modern edge.

01. Burial (2:32)
02. Anthropomorphism (2:54)
03. Dusk (6:09)
04. Invisible Giants (2:36)
05. The Siege (6:20)
06. The Last of Light & Love (7:47)
07. Vast. Cold. Lonesome. (2:22)
08. Hadalpelagic (4:36)
09. Seven Miles to Sleep (4:11)
10. Becoming the Executioner (8:21)
11. Anthropomorphism II (11:59)
12. Apotheosis (9:23)

Total time – 69:10

Kevin Lewis – Bass
James Moore – Guitar, Keyboards, Sampling
Mitch Wayte – Guitar
Chris Marquard – Drums, Electronics, Sampling
~ With:
Kat Von D – Piano (track 1)

Record Label: n/a
Country of Origin: U.S.A.
Date of Release: 10th June 2016

Moving Structures – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp