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Album Review
Null Hour

Null Hour
by Sunken Seas

Muzai Records

Review Date
20th July 2012
Reviewed by
Nich Cunningham

There is always a point of saturation, for post-rock it was reached sometime in the early 2000s. Once the critics’ darling, the genre became a pariah and was even rejected by some of its prominent practitioners like Mogwai and Tortoise. But time heals all wounds and Sunken Seas are here to remind us of why the genre is still interesting and important. With their new album Null Hour, they reinvigorate and revive post-rock by injecting it with their own fresh interpretation.

Null Hour can be described as a textural or timbre-ous record. Music of this nature often seeks to evoke a sense of spaciousness in combination with a tension-and-release dynamic. Sunken Seas succeed in these vital areas but that alone is not sufficient and would only constitute an homage. What helps Sunken Seas stand out is that their approach is as much song-based as it compositional. That is to say, the tracks are not merely a collection of interesting riffs but are put into the service of an over-arching framework. 'Paid Your Price' exemplifies this. The track begins with an obtuse Gordons-esque riff before descending into an angular drone with a complimentary vocal,  given no priority over the other instruments, it succeeds in generating a dark and engaging atmosphere that retains its humanity. But then Sunken Seas are happy enough to break their own rules, later track 'You Might Have Been' heads down a more Math / Krautrock path that, while not in the least bit incompatible, provides enough of a departure to maintain the album’s momentum.

Nineties post-rock became its own victim when its innovations became clichés: many bands simply became indistinguishable from one another. It’s not uncommon for genres to be there own worst enemies. But value judgments are often best made in hindsight and Sunken Seas demonstrate that from a worthy and vital tradition, new and exciting music may come forth.



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