Thursday, May 8, 2008

We, The Divers and the Ancient Mariner (self-released EP; 2005)
Published in Aging Youth # 22 (February 2006)

By Mark Wong

When post-rock signalled a shift in focus to texture from melody, the cinematic prospects of music were brought to the forefront in a way not seen since, perhaps, seventies prog-rock--not that the music became more visual; rather, we found that these sounds stimulated an as-yet unnamed sense--a sense of atmosphere, if you will. And so out rolled Sigur Rós, whose ethereality evoked fjords and glacial shifts, while Godspeed! You Black Emperor were a Wagnerian march through apocalyptic desert drylands.

In that sense, then, We, The Divers continue in this (environmental) tradition, recording music that is unmistakeably sub-aquatic, making the air around you grow dense and heavy, like someone increasing the pressure in your room/head. Space-time perceptions morph just as minimal guitar licks or synth notes bend and warp. There is a constant sense of movement as the extensive use of delay effects call up the motion of recurrent waves.

We, The Divers and the Ancient Mariner is five tracks or forty minutes of deep sound exploration where vast oceans are summoned in exploratory passages that evoke the ghost of electric Miles or the ambient blanket cast by electro-acoustic figures like Oren Ambarchi. On the opening track "The Horizon Slipped", the listener is literally pushed off the edge and right into the deep end of one of the Divers’ murkier compositions. Heavily processed samples sustain the feeling of strangeness and mystery. "For a While There, It was Warm and Nice" is like a lazy stretch at the beach with a languid bass line. It is that lyrical quality and a 4:21 running time that makes it the closest thing to a single the Divers will likely produce. Elsewhere, the dissonant "Drift" finds shimmery sine tones and arpeggios navigating a Merznoise loop.

There are times when the loose--some would say lack of--structures are going to alienate some people. The discursive drift of the sixteen-minute "Untitled 13" has a feel of improvisation and affects a temporal suspension on the listener the way a band like Deathprod does. Above all, this is music that rewards patience and an open mind. All one needs to do is, if I may overkill the metaphor, to get one’s feet wet and give the music of We, The Divers that first try.

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