By: Geoff Topley
Less Than Nothing | website | facebook |
Released on August 4, 2014 via self-released
It’s hard to resist the lure of the instrumental post rock band, listing out those buzzwords and influences, dragging you in with glazed over eyes. You probably shouldn’t over indulge, but you just can’t help yourself. So I decided to give Nottingham three piece Less Than Nothing a wee listen with their album It Will Set You Free.
What a brave move to begin an album with an intro like ‘The Morning is Dead’. I have an old rickety keyboard with a bird sound sample, I think Less Than Nothing might have it too. A simple repetitive guitar line merely adds to the feeling that this may well be a difficult listen from a band clearly finding their feet. I noticed the band name check Explosions In The Sky in an interview, the early strains of the Texan majesties is obvious in ‘Lay Down Your Burdens’. The limited technicality and sounds of the track are fairly inoffensive but devoid of any individual identity, it’s quite generic post rock. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very listenable, it just doesn’t reach into your soul like those at the top of their game can do.
I can tell that Less Than Nothing will be immensely proud of this record, I know they will have invested a lot of time and effort in making it. For that, they are to be commended, so at this stage I struggle to be overtly critical. ‘November’s Sky’ is a highlight and has some lovely guitar melodies that arc skywards and show where the band’s strengths lie. They really do like to keep things simple and ‘Wind Monath’ reminds me of those early ASIWYFA demos I have tucked away from their fledgling gigs around Belfast. I stuck with that band and look at how they’ve changed and progressed. In order to raise yourself above the plethora of post rock instrumentalists, change and exploration is key.
It’s at this point in the album that Less Than Nothing begin the change process, like a butterfly escaping its cocoon. ‘In Between Dreams’ is an odd combination of light airy guitars and thunderous drumming. It’s an idea, but nothing more, they could and should have developed the track a little more. But it’s showing a different hue, so we’ll progress with intrigue.
The album’s title track ‘It Will Set You Free’ shows signs of invention at last, built on a bedrock of twinkling guitars and delicate acoustic picking. The inevitable loud bits kick in, but the guitar sound is so improved and welcoming from what has gone before. ‘Too Little, Too Late’ runs in a similar vein and has a neat song structure and melody. Gaining in confidence and assurance, the chugging guitars at the start of ‘Never Enough (Never Give Up)’ may lack a little depth, but remind me of Pelican. Less Than Nothing have taken serious chances with the running order of their album. The closing tracks are increasingly improving and this track ends up an immense tune with frenetic guitar work and a beautiful bluesy solo appears to close, why isn’t there more of this?!!!
With closing track ‘The Sea Has Many Voices’, I’d firstly like to comment that the military snare drumming is maybe a little overused. Again, the melody and combination of guitars makes Less Than Nothing sound like an entirely different band from the first half of this album. There’s a real confidence in the playing and the atmosphere is a lot less tentative and much more determined. Suddenly the band come over as a real prospect for better things, this has been one hell of a comeback. It’s early days for Less Than Nothing, but everyone’s got to start somewhere, right? I’ll wager album number two will be something entirely different.