Friday, November 18, 2011
Preterite - Pillar of Winds (2011)
Country: Montreal, Canada
Style: Experimental Drone/Folk
Label: Handmade Birds
I don't recall what my first reaction was when I first heard of this project, but I'll admit that it probably wasn't one that was all that ecstatic. Because I'm not a huge fan of Menace Ruine, I was pretty much only checking this out because Handmade Birds has released nothing but good material. A couple weeks and a little more than half a dozen listens later, here was my impression.
The five songs that make up this album shouldn't be viewed as separate entities, but instead as five pieces that make up a single track. This isn't a record that, honestly, I could see a lot of people putting on just to enjoy the fact of having it on. It's the type of record that isn't meant to really fall into the background, if you put it on, you will be sucked into it. For me, the entire thing acts as a sort of meditation on spirituality rather than a ritual of some sort, as I could see others disagreeing on. It's a very powerful record that really pulled me into a trance while listening to it. Much more somber and authentic than perhaps the what new age records would have you believe, this album expresses various emotional outlets whether it be a sobering sense of mournfulness or a more tense and chaotic sense of rage and frustration. A good portion of the vocals tend to follow an almost choral sense of melody and structure, which suits the music just as well as you might expect it to given what the music is. Call it liturgical if you wish, there are similarities between the structure of this album and more traditional liturgical music.
Sonically, this album explores what could be called a rather defined sort of sound, which is meant to be a compliment. Songs follow a sort of strict path that dictates how the album progresses, starting with the cautious opener Oath before building into a crescendo on Trial of Strength and then descending back to a crawl on Viriditas. The use of elements that can be traced back to genres like drone, like new age, like folk, like neo-classical music, as well as others, all brought together into a sound like this that does not really focus on one sound over another. I feel that I should make it clear that unlike a lot of other records where I'll reference build-ups and falls to the likes of post-rock, you really can't say that about this album. By removing most traces of what could be seen as "rock" or "metal" influences, you wind up with a sound that is left very open to interpretation as to what exactly it is. These are pieces that drag out for extended periods of time to really convey a sense of wholeness and calmness that I have yet to really hear in underground music, really music that isn't coming from more traditional composers.
It's much better than what I might have guessed it to be, and it's quite an interesting listen. I'm well aware that it isn't for everyone, but I'd at least advise you to listen to it at least one, completely through, before you make up your mind about it. If you're into experimental drone, folk, avant-garde composition, etc., you know what you have to do by now, check this out.
Overall Score: 9
Highlights: The Fourth Corner, Viriditas