GOD IS AN ASTRONAUT - GHOST TAPES # 10
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
IRELAND'S POST ROCKERS LAUNCH ONCE MORE INTO UPLIFTING SADNESS
God Is An Astronaut are from Ireland and have been pedalling their own brand of Post-Rock since 2002. The Post-Rock term is, of course, frequently mired by ceaseless, exasperated and often indulgent commentary from music critic flaneurs and self-appointed poobahs so let's bin that waffle and concentrate on the music. Ghost Tapes # 10 is GIAA's tenth album and is instrumental album where mood and arrangements are once again the voice.
Adrift is strident, bobbing alternative rock with a tension and directness that eschews the sweeping, long-distance panoramas from the likes of If These Trees Could Talk or the immersive horizons of Explosions in the Sky in favour of a harsher riff-centred approach more akin to Pelican or Russian Circles. This trashier live feel is a lynchpin that runs throughout Ghost Tapes # 10 and the likes of Burial - after an ethereal, ionized introduction - cuts into jarring, pent-up, anxiety-ridden riffs and shrill paranoid noise. At some points the guitar-led urgency is almost reminiscent of Therapy's manic neuroticism as demonstrated on the discordant low-fi indie rock of Spectres or In Flux. The up-tempo pulse of Fade, meanwhile, is a real highlight which triumphantly combines drive-time crashing walls of indie guitar with a soaring transcendentalism.
Like so much in what is called Post Rock, however, it is those hushed, fragile passages that can be some of the most arresting and absorbing and GIAA's work is dappled with softer, reflectiveness. The songs here tend to flicker into life with spectral, gaseous introductions and the rock compositions conflate into more existential wide-screen atmospheres. Barren Trees sounds like latter-day Mogwai, with that band's classic interplay of counter-melodies where low-fi reverbed key movements are backed with high shimmering curtains of noise. It is arguably the most cinematic apogee of the record and hits an emotional high water mark. A lesson in less-is-more is Luminous Waves, a subdued apposite to conclude the record and an intimate, delicate slow motion destruction that mists away privately without fanfare.
Ghost Tapes # 10 has a hazy, almost intentionally low-fi feel. It is essentially an instrumental rock record with a cerebral edge, rather than the other way around like many other Post-Rock efforts. It has a looser, freer feel with the drums high in the mix giving this the vibe of a jamming session. This brashness, however, lies very much in the first half of the record and this is succeeded latterly by developing into more meditative, atmospheric excursions. Thankfully these do not do not meander into the thrall of etherealism, a frequent lapse of instrumental rock, and the records retains a coherence with a run-time of under 40 minutes.