Like a continuation from something unheard, Tangled Thoughts Of Leaving plunge into immediate doom with crushed bass and drums at a death march; any introduction for the uninitiated is left to imagery from the album art and title, ‘Yield To Despair’. And yield we must as distortion rolls over you in waves, overwhelmingly downcast and bleak; it’s hard to deny the potency of sentiment. But this immersive atmosphere, lulling us into an emotion we naturally repress, is welcome like an old friend; despair isn’t all bad, it seems.
Interspersions of gorgeous, calming piano and soothing grooves such as midway through first track ‘Albanian sleepover Part 1’, provide counterpoint to droning guitars and offer TTOL a point of difference. Setting aside genre allures in favour of exploration, ‘Yield To Despair’ is as experimental as it is post-rock, with stabs of heavy progressive rock and a lot of noise. It’s schizophrenic, bipolar, the guitars and the piano sometimes at odds and others interacting perfectly, two sides of the same beast.
Ideas grow, change, and build, only to be broken down and built up into something new; ‘Yield To Despair’ is like a Lego set shared amongst four petulant adults. Indulgent post-rock jams develop into sharply focused motifs over and over, each band member getting their chance to accentuate their point. Emotion and intent is so masterfully clear through chord choices and instrumentation that you don’t miss a vocal, a sign of a truly good instrumental band.
The album flows naturally as one complete work, and although TTOL have chosen to edit the piece into five titles, each is a limb of the same body. It’s very visual, visceral, incredibly cinematic. A ship in the night, a writhing storm, a cowboy in a smoky saloon, love is a land lost long ago, close your eyes and drift into dream; guitars like creaking ropes, like wound springs, palpable tension waiting to explode.
Structurally loose, TTOL prefer to progress slowly, floating with the sound until a chance to change presents itself. It’s this aspect that leaves the listener hanging on ever so slightly through lengthy compositions to get the really great moments. Like at 09:06 into ‘Albanian Sleepover Part 2’, the incredible conclusion of 20 minutes of ideas is a massive relief for having been built up so much. TTOL have done what they want, they’ve expressed their tangled thoughts better than most could hope to and ‘Yield To Despair’ is ultimately successful as a result.
While the production is good and well thought-out, I couldn’t help but crave some heavier reverb or atmosphere for the drums especially to make them even bigger than they are, really allowing the listener to soak in the depth all encompassed. In other moments like the end of ‘Shaking Off Futility’; the close drum sound is ideal and it’s the guitars that could use a bit more space.
Get your headphones on, find a comfy spot, lay back and ‘Yield To Despair’. Expect an adventure, expect to be moved, but don’t expect directness or traditional structure, that’s not what ‘Yield To Despair’ is about. It’s down the rabbit-hole, delving deep into introspection and imagination, where there is no structure, no rules; ideas can run their course and minds can run wild.
(8.5/10 Kane Power)