Monday 31 December 2012

Amp Rive - Irma Vep

Album review by

Let's face it, an album of instrumental post-rock isn't going to go down a storm with everyone. Long songs, no lyrics, abstract sounds, lots of truncated guitarscapes; it's always going to put some people off. Italians Amp Rive just about encapsulate the genre, so if you're not sure exactly what post-rock sounds like, then take a listen. Like most branches of music this too has its devotees and there will be plenty here for those people to get excited about, because while they may not add anything particularly new to these sounds, they do make them incredibly well and they also do away with some of the unnecessary excess than can creep in to such records.

They begin with 'Procession', a song which very much sets a tone, and that tone is an anxious one, as though something bad is on the horizon. It's not metal but if you like things a little harder-edged then this will more than satisfy. The load is lightened for 'Best Kept Secret', the shortest and maybe best song on the album, where they embrace melody a little more. It's unlikely to be coming to a daytime radio playlist near you anytime soon, although it is Amp Rive at their more accessible. They're aiming from a bold statement with 'A Sort' Of Apology' and for a while those guitars soar impressively above the clouds before the appropriately-titled 'Clouded Down' is brought back to earth with a more sombre mood and urgent, panicky drumming.

A classic word when used to describe some forms of post-rock is "apocalyptic", and 'Irma Vep' is no different. These vast and sprawling atmospheric sounds with their peaks and troughs and menacing overtones do conjure up images of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. They even end with a track titled 'The Apocalypse In F', and if that song is the slow-building soundtrack to the end of everything, then 'If' is the calm before the storm, being probably the most delicate here. The apocalypse itself begins steadily, leading to a sense of impending doom and it's not until the final couple of minutes that hell is allowed to break loose. On this album Amp Rive have used all the tricks of the trade, but there's a reason why these tricks are so popular; because they work, something that's proven once again here.

Amp Rive's website

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