Northern Irish four-piece And So I Watch You From Afar released their fifth album, Jettison, back in February this year, following on from 2017’s The Endless Shimmering.
Consisting of Rory Friers and Niall Kennedy on guitars, Ewen Friers on bass and Chris Wee on drums and percussion, they continue to plough their own unique furrow in the art/post rock arena, and the ambient sounds that are their trademark are writ large throughout this record.
The minimalist opening with Dive, part 1 with its soft strings and soft-spoken voiceover leads into Dive, part 2 where the drums and guitars softly take over with a metronomic beat and those strings still swelling. It’s a perfect blend of their previous guitarscapes and the classic sound of Philip Glass or Terry Riley, where less is more, and the gaps are there to allow the music to breath.
In fact, the sonic origami on this album is sublime as the tracks are allowed to build and build, reminiscent of the work of bands like Jilk and Explosions in the Sky.
The short Lung is a guitar-driven piece that has some great Howe-esque guitar work throughout (which draws comparisons to the softer side of Thumpermonkey as well) and the piece builds and builds before launching into In Air.
As you immerse yourself in this album you realise this is an entire piece of music split into different movements and sits as much in the minimalist classical world as it does in the rock world, drawing on elements of both as it builds and cycles round, as it builds to crescendos before ebbing, flowing, and cycling back round.
The drumming underneath is vital to every track and allows them to create their musical soundscapes around a taut beat throughout each track.
This album is very much the sum of its parts, and as each track ebbs and flows into the next you realise that this is an album that you must immerse yourself in; turn off the phone, shut the door and let the music take you on its journey.
The way the album comes to a close with a title track that is as much psych-driven as string-laden as it just builds and builds across the six-minutes (which is the longest track here by far) and then leads into the finale of A.D Poet is a masterclass in composition and exposition.
This takes the traditional instrumental art form and pushes it further out there, away from the tried and tested method and instead pulling all their skills together to create something new that is haunting, uplifting, beautiful and unique.
If you fancy hearing something that is truly progressive, then this is the album for you.
01. Dive, Pt.1 (3:54)
02. Dive, Pt.2 (4:47)
03. Lung (1:57)
04. In Air (4:54)
05. Hold (5:38)
06. Submerge (5:41)
07. Emerge (2:01)
08. Jettison (6:17)
09. A.D Poet (3:31)
Total Time – 38:40
Rory Friers – Guitars
Niall Kennedy – Guitars
Ewen Friers – Bass
Chris Wee – Drums & Percussion
Record Label: Independent
Formats: CD, Vinyl, Download
Country of Origin: U.K.
Date of Release: 18th February 2022
And So I Watch You From Afar – Website | Facebook | Bandcamp