Post-rock is one of the most versatile genres of the modern times. It can be dark and heavy or extremely ethereal and ambient. This not only allows artists to cover a large sonic landscape, but also weave a plethora of emotions into their music. Yet, most projects while getting the sound right, hardly touch the emotional aspect of the genre. Luckily Under This Cracked Shell has a good understanding of this aspect and he ensures that his music not only has the rich dynamics that his style allows, but also the emotional response it calls for. While practically all music fans enjoy getting lost in lyrics, it takes even a deeper love to grow close to strictly instrumental compositions.
Structurally, the 6 track EP, “The Path”, flows smoothly. It’s full of easily digested, three to four minute tracks that often follow a rhythmic structure dominated by guitar, piano, or bass sounds. Melody on the EP is subtly masked, while the drumming in some instances include incredibly expressive playing.
This provides a tasteful sense of motion to the recording that is otherwise mainly concerned with dynamics and atmospheres. The sounds are sparse, yet lush and expansive, like an isolated look at a wintry landscape, something that’s not quite sad, but at the same time fills you with a sense of wistful longing.
At every moment Under This Cracked Shell create sounds hauntingly beautiful that are also somehow contemplative, as if a musical reaction to something fleeting and incredibly marvelous that cannot be described. Each piece in the album is less a song and more a carefully crafted soundscape that transports you to another dimension.
The opening title track, “The Path”, is deep, haunting, brooding, and steeped in myth and mystery. With soft, picked notes and a faint strings, we are drawn into “Crossing The Courier” which is eventually dominated by an explosive show of dynamic drum drumming.
By the time you’re run through the melting sounds of “Outrunning Emotions”, you would have noticed that the EP’s main strength is its incredible consistency in crucial areas. Firstly, in its high level of quality; there’s no fat anywhere on this recording, no lulls, no long-stretches where you’re tempted to reach for the skip button, and the music continues its rewards with repeated listens.
Moreover, every track contains some moment guaranteed to pull the listener back for a second hearing. Songs like “The Climb” immediately cut straight through the intellectual centers and goes straight to the sensory receptors with its insistent rhythm.
The evocative keys, cosmic synths and gradual build of the former and the simple maintenance of the latter, give way to an excellent illustration of how Under This Cracked Shell’s use of impelling percussion adds multi-dimensionally to the sound. Guiding the EP into a much calmer space is the sprawling and beautiful piano-driven ambient piece, “The Path Rediscovered”, which helps to highlight the project’s versatility and progressive attitude.
All-round, the songs on “The Path”, are tightly arranged, well performed, and emotionally evocative. It’s a worthy addition to the collection of any post-rock enthusiastic, and good to keep around for listening to, on a rainy day, which there will soon be many of!