Album Review: Arms Of Tripoli – All The Fallen Embers EP
Despite post-rock’s relatively short 15-year time in the commercial spotlight, the genre has seen a dramatic increase in width and breadth, as many talented musicians make their own mark on the legacy. Sometimes these musicians come together, and the resulting bands make fascinating soundscapes, the likes of which become whispered reverently by acolytes of the genre: Mogwai, Tortoise, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But what if these musicians were to exist as a collective, contributing around a framework laid out by a core group? This, by way of introduction, is the case with LA quintet-plus-others Arms Of Tripoli and their début All The Fallen Embers EP. Just shy of half an hour, the musicians carve a familiar yet individual style across 6 tracks, naming Tortoise, Shipping News and Rodan as influences.
The post-rock “basis”, for those unaware of the style, is thus: layers of instruments build upon deceptively simple melodies and drum patterns, occasionally using opportunities to swing between noisy peaks and mellow troughs. Instead, Arms Of Tripoli never once floor the pedal, and the heaviness in tracks like the somber “City Speak” is muddied and distant. “Cliff Dwellings” fades into Reserve De Marche alt-rock-ish tendencies, and “Radio Silence” has fuzzy edges, but most of the runtime is in a clean and fresh atmosphere.
Remarkably, the clean atmosphere allows for each track to mold to its title: “City Speak” feels decidedly urban and dynamic in its summer setting, while “Sectioned By Brooks” is certainly inspired by nature with its acoustic picking amid very mellow and shoegazing ambience. “Waking Eyes” strays off the beaten path to drop in an anachronistic overdriven hard rock solo before the band slow to a crawl in an impressive about-face.
Upon further spins, the technicality and layering of the musicianship is one of the main stand-out features of the EP; the drumming in particular is complex and yet not assertive, reminding again more of Reserve De Marche than the noisiness of Pelican. In addition, the bass makes its subtle yet necessary presence felt, particularly in the closer “Radio Silence” (which one assumes would be actual radio silence, but which is much more enjoyable). Finally, the keyboard and Moog sections such as in opener “Vikings In The Attic” must not be forgotten for adding some surreal effect to the whole entity.
If this review hasn’t convinced you thus far that Arms Of Tripoli are one to place prominently on your post-rock radar, then take this final word on the matter: All The Fallen Embers does a spectacular job in taking an oft-overdone subgenre and creating something unique without being off-the-wall or too inaccessible. And still done without vocals.
Check out Arms Of Tripoli on Facebook, or stream the EP below.