Unstable Journey - A Fire in The Trees - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Unstable Journey - A Fire in The Trees

by Andy Brown Rating:7 Release Date:2013-10-04

While Unstable Journey are new to me, their connection to one of my favourite acts in Leeds makes it feel like they come with a pre-approved seal of quality. Bass player and vocalist Ben Dawson also plays in The Wind-Up Birds, while guitar wizard and co-vocalist Ian Mitchell makes brilliantly bizarre music with Kroyd (also of The Wind-Up Birds) as noise/improv duo Forgets. Unstable Journey are an entirely different prospect to both these acts but are equally worthy of your attention.

The album starts with something of a musical red-herring: 'Always Wrong' is a fast-paced punk song and by far the most conventional tune here. It's an immediate and attention-grabbing piece of songwriting yet, while brilliant, it doesn't really hint at what's to follow.

The nearly 10-minute-long 'Swan Song' reveals the band's expansive and emotive sound in full. Its tumbling guitar lines, distant, undefined vocals, and restrained drums plunge your ears into a heady, kaleidoscopic pool of slow-releasing wonderment. It's a rather beautiful piece of music and isn't even the best thing here.

'City Loop' brings in motorik drums, fast and fuzzy guitars and all manner of spaced-out synth effects before 'Jay' slides into view and slowly takes the roof off. In many ways the album's centrepiece, 'Jay' is at once melancholic (lines about "sinking like a stone"), urgent and tense. There are certainly shades of the often underrated Six by Seven in here. I listened to it while walking home through the brown leaves and unexpected sunshine today and it seemed to add all kinds of drama to my post-work stroll.

'Souvenir' takes us in a completely different direction again with its mixture of frazzled space-rock and punk before 'A Quiet Place in the Country' unfolds over eight instrumental minutes of Mogwai-worthy post-rock gorgeousness. It's possible to get completely lost in something this majestic.

'Forest Fire' crackles with the intimacy of a campfire confessional, with some great vocals from Dawson and Mitchell: "Have we changed? Or have you always felt the same? There's a fire in the trees, your face in the flames…" It's chills-up-the-back-of-the-spine beautiful and gives the listener a brief breather before the epic closing piece. The 15 psychedelic minutes of 'Gojira' drip out of the speakers and turn into a cloud of technicolour smoke before your eyes (or maybe that wasn't camomile tea after all?) bringing the album to a suitably impressive conclusion.

The slower, longer and ultimately stranger tracks seem to have more impact overall. The band has a real grasp of space and atmosphere and the true nature of all things epic. It's on these sprawling, largely instrumental pieces that they almost sound like some great lost Japanese psych band. Or at least a band that has spent a lot of high times listening to Boris. A Fire in the Trees might slip under many peoples radars but I'd urge you to give it a listen.

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