Finally stepping out of the cinematic world, Explosions In The Sky is back with its latest new commercial LP, The Wilderness.
While it is definitely an album, it still feels like a soundtrack. But rather than being background instrumentation for movies like “Friday Night Lights” or “Lone Survivor,” The Wilderness feels more like the soundtrack of life.
Explosions In The Sky’s sounds have always existed in the baroque and grandiose. They methodically build and layer instrumentation in a way that prompts the listener to project their emotions onto the tracks in lieu of lyrics. This continues to be the case on The Wilderness. This time around the architectural approach the band layers in their instrumentation diverts greatly from previous LPs such as The Earth Is A Cold Dead Place.
On past Explosions In The Sky records, the sounds would often build by adding more drums or more guitars, but that’s not the case on The Wilderness. Rather than making certain instruments busier or more aggressive to create rising tensions, the band instead opts to add more instruments on this project. They pull from a deep collection of synths, string orchestras and electronic percussion that coexist with the acoustic drums, guitars and pianos to create a powerful mass of sound.
By using a wide selection of instrumentation the band is able to envelop the listener in the soundscapes they create. It’s the kind of music ideally consumed by just closing your eyes and letting the sounds take you for a ride. In songs like “Logic of a Dream,” lush bright synths send the listener soaring, then at the apex, a barrage of rolling drums and grating industrial synths that all culminate in a soft mandolin outro that brings the listener back to equilibrium.
It all feels undeniably cinematic, but at the same time the work can feel intensely personal. It becomes difficult to talk about The Wilderness in the third person with how much time a listener may spend projecting his or her own emotions and memories onto the work. The listener’s love and loss, hope and despair, longing and fear, can all find a way into projections in this album.
The Wilderness not only feels cinematic in scale, but also in how it reflects the life projected onto it. It’s a concept that few genres can execute well as post-rock can, and furthermore it’s a concept that very few post-rock albums can execute as masterfully as The Wilderness.