Top Bar
Musique Machine Logo Home ButtonMM Radio ButtonReviews ButtonArticles ButtonBand Specials ButtonMP3 ButtonForum ButtonAbout Us Button
SearchGo Down
Search for  
With search mode in section(s)
And sort the results by
show articles written by  
 Review archive:  # a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z

The Boats - Ballads of the Research Department [12k - 2012]

The Boats' "Ballads of the Research Department" is an album of fragile and ethereal 'slowcore' or ambient post rock that never rises above a very relaxed energy level, a patient, resigned feeling like watching the rain pour down through the window, recalling the phrase "the serenity to accept the things I cannot change"...  Each of the 4 songs is over 10 minutes long, and goes through sections of beautifully orchestrated piano and strings, vocals (a whisper or faint croon), and pulsing, crackling electronic ambience, full of analog warmth.  As with other such bands, they play simple, repeating riffs, but the overall soundscape becomes very complex.

The pad sound that opens the album is an airy, refreshing texture, and even on its own contains of world of compassionate emotion and beauty.  Circled by winds, the listener begins a pleasant drift that remains unbroken throughout the record.  After 2 minutes, the gusts of sound are stripped back and only a lonely, muted organ tone remains, riddled with crackling imperfections.  A crescendo follows, and it is revelatory; the orchestration expands to include wordless choirs, piano chords and yearning cellos.  It's simply heartwrenching, and, due to its versatility, something even beyond "cinematic" in scope. 


I haven't heard a shimmery loveliness this perfect and complete perhaps since Bjork's "Vespertine".  The production is so incredibly lush, full of details, layers and sounds that make this album a complete landscape.  All frequency ranges are perfectly balanced in a radiant prismatic harmony that is pure pleasure to the ears.


"The Ballad of Failure" begins with the drums, playing a relaxed groove, and male vocals, intoned in a calm shoegazer style.  The lyrics have a universal quality that does not undermine the highly interpretable nature of the music.  "You can come out from your hiding place / You can see the funny side."  The song dissolves into soothing spirals of harp-like tones, which become softer and softer, complimented by lilting, soft laments from the piano.  Unexpectedly, a minimalist electronic beat appears, and picks the song out of the soupy ambient murk just as it was beginning to feel stagnant.  It couldn't be better timing.


The final two songs are every bit as gorgeous and emotive as the first two, in fact "The Ballad for the Girl on the Moon" is likely my favorite track.  The songs are just different from one another to continuously surprise and amaze, never dwelling too long in a particular space.  This sets this album above other music in this genre, which can sometimes feel wallowing, repetitive or bland.  The Boats show that there is a vast range of possible dynamics and textures even within this niche of slow, ambient rock.  This is the kind of sophistication I'd expect from a rock album on Taylor Deupree's 12k label.  I can't imagine a better melancholic rainy day contemplation than one spent with this CD

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Josh Landry
Latest Reviews

The Boats - Ballads of the Resear...
The Boats' "Ballads of the Research Department" is an album of fragile and ethereal 'slowcore' or ambient post rock that never rises above a very relaxed ene...
240616   Gorguts - Pleiades Dust
230616   Flesh Coffin - Black Lakes
230616   Sharron Kraus - Hen Llan Rec...
230616   Ogrob / Vomir - Diffusions In...
220616   Chrome - Alien Soundtracks I ...
220616   Ghost - Building The Night
210616   Common Eider, King Eider - Ex...
160616   Yasunao Tone, Talibam!, Sam K...
160616   Dangerous Men - Dangerous Men...
160616   Erik Nyström - Morphogenèse
Latest Articles

Nash The Slash - The Sonic Dreamw...
Nash The Slash is one of the more unusual, creative, and distinctive artists to appear from within the Canadian music scene in the last twenty or so yea...
210616   Nash The Slash - The Sonic Dr...
150616   Naughty - Static Femininity
290416   Signora Ward Records - Nylon ...
040416   23 Treads - Strange Pathways...
010416   Joseph Szymkowiak - On A Ques...
260116   Morte Cammina & Needle and Kn...
030116   Helm - Transience and its Res...
161215   Best Of 2015 - Best Of 2015
051115   Zeitkratzer - The Noise Chamber
131015   Vomir - Of Black Bags, unrele...

Newsletter
Subscribe to our monthly newsletter

subscribe unsubscribe
Go Up
(c) Musique Machine 2001 - 2014. Mail Us at questions=at=musiquemachine=dot=com Bottom