Instrumental albums are not everyone’s cup of tea, but I’m fine with them. This band’s music is described as “cinematic”. I would be disappointed if it wasn’t as without the obstacle of vocals, good instrumental music should explore scenes and present us with images, otherwise it wouldn’t offer very much. What we do get here is over an hour of “Triumph and Disaster”, the Australian band’s fourth album release. It’s perhaps not helpful to repeat the explanation that “Triumph and Disaster” is “a post-apocalyptic view on the collapse of the world told like a children’s story” as it should be up to the listener to determine their own impression but it is a starting point.
The album opens up with the 15 minute “Towers”. It glides and drifts rather than being weighty. It has the post rock ring of the band Isis, but so too does it have a menacing progress, accentuated by the pianist at one point. In my mind I pictured not outright destruction but urban decay. I’m not sure where the children’s story fitted in as it’s too intense for that, but “Towers” depicts a progressing story nevertheless, and one of epic proportions. “A Beautiful Collapse” then starts acoustically with a melancholic section. The power builds up enticingly. The drum beats ominously before a dark and majestic piece of post metal. I suppose post metal is always going to sound like post metal, and the patterns tend to be the same, but for something ostensibly gloomy and through excellent accentuation of sound, We Lost The Sea bring this to life. The latter part of “A Beautiful Collapse” is indeed exciting. The sad strains of a trumpet then adorn the sorrowful and atmospheric “Dust”. “Parting Ways” then does what this album is so good at: capturing a melancholic scene with beauty and sensitivity. My only gripe is that it went on too long and repetitively, negating to some extent the devastating impact of the first part. “Distant Shores” follows and is noteworthy for its sinister element, but again it seems a case of setting the scene and not building on it. An explosive start to “The Last Sun” leads to a prolonged hypnotic and reflective section. Eventually it builds up to a crescendo but it takes more than 10 minutes so patience is required. And finally some words and more trumpet on the dirgeful “Mother’s Hymn”.
The album comes with nice sleeve work, and insight into the inherent story, viz: “Some time in the future on the edge of the world lives a boy with his mother in a house with no walls”. I can’t however really say that I got any sense of the story other than this, nor of the triumph or disaster. There were too many moments too where I felt it became becalmed or there was a loss of direction. Yet there were captivating, powerful, often sad and always thought-provoking pieces, with much intrigue and intelligent structures. Overall “Triumph and Disaster” led me to fluctuate between goosebumps and numbness, between connection and disconnection.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)