Mineral by TerraformerRelease date: February 16, 2017
Label: Dunk! Records
A few months ago, we published an interview with Terraformer intending to issue a review of their excellent new record at the same time. Unfortunately, world events being what they are and given that half our staff is secretly involved in clandestine activities to bring down the deep state, our review had to wait until now for publishing. But as any fertility clinic worker will tell you, better late.
Mineral, which was released on Dunk! Records in mid-February, begins with one of the band’s best songs. It starts with a deceptive moment of ambience before dropping a punishing barrage of guitars onto your face like a hail of punches and kicks. Solid technical post-rock follows, chock full of big highs, heavy lows, massive texture, and surprisingly tender meditative moments that pull at the heart strings like big-eyed immigrant children. This is some of the best post-rock out there. Any fan of bands like Pelican, Isis, or Caspian will be very happy with this release.
A first listen and it is hard not to be impressed by how big the band’s sound is given that it is only a three piece. Like Russian Circles, they rely on some helpful equipment that allows them to loop riffs on the fly and augment their layers into some really powerful stuff. The songs have multiple movements and play out like pieces of classical music. This makes the music fundamentally unpredictable and interesting for repeated listens despite the lack of vocals. That said, the changes are never contrived or feel bolted-on, which is something one hears with a lot of instrumental bands. It is in this compositional excellence that Terraformer really shine.
The songs are all named after metals, rocks, and seas, which begets the album title, Mineral. All except one song, that is – ‘Penelope’. ‘Penelope’ is the heaviest, fastest pace and most angular song on the record, which makes one wonder who this Penelope is and what the heck she did to deserve such a song. The elemental theme fits the general theme of the album really well, though, since there is a natural freshness and clarity to the music. While heavy, it never feels depressing or negative. Nor is it technical to the point of lacking in emotional punch. Quite the opposite, the album is actually quite passionate and it’s hard not to feel a very full range of emotions listening to it. The final song, ‘The Ether Shell’ is especially hard-hitting that way and leaves the listener melancholified, but wanting to hear more.
The only thing I’m not in love with is the album cover, which carries a sense of diffuse fuzziness, the exact opposite of what their music is like. But isn’t there some saying out there that one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover?