How often do you get to listen and review post-rock from a part of the world more known for its religious hatred, lack of human rights and obsession with Rebecca Black? Ok, I might have made up the last point but you get the idea.
Not often. Across The Waves hail from sunny Tehran and if ‘War Ends, Misery Stays’ is their first effort then I’m well impressed. When you live somewhere where even something simple like rehearsing could be met by stern gentlemen with rifles then things get a little more… Difficult.
This release opens with a nice little ambient track which then flows into ‘Adventure Into The Unknown’ – a simple question and answer phrase on the guitars framing a restrained military cadence on the drums. Then we get one of the album highlights – ‘Childhood Memories’. I could wax lyrical about the sense of loss and regret for times past I got from this track, but you should just listen to it. Chiming guitars, children playing in the background, a good peak and of course the fuzzy, epic, swirling guitar line that in a live setting makes you close your eyes and smile.
Next up is ‘Farewell To Family’, a morose and serious track that builds for 5 minutes before the metal-tinged guitars come in. Not bad, but not memorable. That’s ok though, because next is ‘Overrunned’, another strong track, and the longest on the album. Comparisons with ‘Mono’ are hard to avoid here as they use a lot of the same tropes, but again – they can be forgiven if not through their musicianship, then definitely through their enthusiasm.
Next is ‘You Are Not Machines, You Are Men’. If this track had been released by one of the ‘big’ post-rock bands then some would have dismissed it as cheesy, formulaic or even twee – yet here it gains a new reverence, as the sampled voice is clearly referencing the strife, turmoil and pain in the Middle East. And you know what? It works. I listened to this track – and then a few days later I listened to this track – and it had changed for me after thinking about the sense of time, place and surroundings. Maybe it will for you too.
I won’t prattle on anymore about this album, but I think that there are two more things that warrant comment, and both of those things are completely understandable: the quality of the mix and the slightly convoluted nature of the release. When I first heard this album I got on my high horse and thought of the traditional ‘cardboard box’ mix…. But how many good recording studios are there in Tehran? Or good sound engineers? Or ones that can mix post-rock? There cannot be many. The fact that this album exists is in itself impressive. And the convoluted nature? Well – if I was in a band that’s only been around for 2 years that resides in a militant Muslim nation not renowned for tolerance of anything that doesn’t fit the ‘norm’ and had an opportunity to release an album, I’d be making damn sure everything I could put on it – I would. And they have. And that’s ok. Go boys.
Give it a listen. I think you just might dig it… And I’m sure they’d appreciate it.
Available now on Bandcamp.
Posted by Nick Dodds.