Last week my friend John, who runs Karma Records of Warsaw(my hometown vinyl haunt), had nonchalantly brought This Will Destroy You up to me while I was in the store perusing. He’d gotten their album Tunnel Blanket in the store and said he thought I might like ’em. I liked the packaging. It kind of reminded me of something Godspeed You! Black Emperor might put out. Yeah, I know you can’t judge a book by it’s cover, but when a band takes the time to not only put out great music -but take great care in album artwork, gatefold sleeves, and just a general classy presentation- well I really appreciate that kind of stuff. Anyways, I told my pal John that I’d give them a listen on the ‘ol Rdio the next morning and see what I thought. Sure, I could’ve snagged the record from John right then and there, but the days of just buying an album on a whim are kinda gone. That is, unless it’s a $12 or $14 record. I’m not going on $24 whims these days.
The next morning at work I give Tunnel Blanket a spin. First time through I liked it, but it didn’t quite click with me at first. So I ran through it again and something was different. This is definitely what you’d call “post-rock”, but I really hate dumping bands in genres. I use it simply to give someone not familiar with the band a direction or sound to be prepared for. There are hints of Mogwai in the opening track “Little Smoke”, but the sound is much more expansive and cinematic than Mogwai. Less blunt and more carefully crafted. It’s twelve minutes that build into a cacophony of noise that disintegrates into a mournful mist during the end. Once I ran through it the second time I was hooked. This was pure and beautiful and tough and amazing. “Glass Realms” is almost ambient music, with a melody wavering in the air and what sounds like a ghostly symphony underneath.
There are definite similarities to This Will Destroy You and Explosions in The Sky. The big, open sound, long run times with the songs, and just a general feeling of wonder in the compositions. But where EiTS has a general feeling of “good” or “uplifting”, This Will Destroy You is more like instrumental black metal. Or doom metal with swirls of shoegaze. Doom/gaze? Either way, their songs linger more in the brisk, charcoal gray world of late October and November, not Explosions in The Sky’s open blue skies of July. But I think there’s something to be said for both of these bands hailing from the Lonestar state. I’ve been to Texas. I’ve driven three straight hours from Lubbock to San Angelo and seen nothing but flat lands and horizons that seem you’d never reach the whole trip. You can hear that vastness in both bands. “Communal Blood” by This Will Destroy You feels like staring out into a vapid, stretching landscape and wondering if you’ll ever seen another human being again. Arms out-stretched and reaching for something; but nothing reaching back. “Reprise” continues that internal squall for something. Anything.
I think the most beautiful piece of music I’ve heard in a very long time is sitting in the middle of Tunnel Blanket. It’s called “Killed The Lord, Left For The New World”. Much like the title, it evokes feelings of endings and new beginnings. It’s sweet, airy, tribal, and breathtaking. It’s a moment on that cold November afternoon where the black clouds open for a moment and share some of the sunlight they are keeping from the earth. It’s both regaling life and mourning death; not sad just reminiscing a soul long gone. It’s stunning.
Tunnel Blanket feels like a new world symphony, not a rock record. It’s like a futuristic orchestral piece. From start to finish it moves me in a way I haven’t been for some time. To some ears I’m sure this will just be filed under “post-rock” and written off as just more of that instrumental stuff. But those ears will be missing out on something quite wonderful. I’ve gone through This Will Destroy You’s catalog and I haven’t found a record from them I don’t love. Young Mountain is probably my least favorite, but that is still a great album. Their newest, Another Language, is absolutely incredible as well. It almost seems heavier, while at the same time pushing those ambient moments even further. I’ll be writing more about that record soon.
There you have it. I’ve found a new favorite band, and all thanks to John at Karma. Muchas gracias, Juan. Muchas gracias.