If any one band could possibly sum up what ‘post rock’ has come to mean in the broader imagination, then that group is surely Explosions In The Sky. With their colossal sonic landscapes and huge dynamic shifts, the band helped codify the term into something linear, their instrumental work carrying a crushing beauty. Aptly picked up for soundtrack work, Explosions In The Sky have developed their music’s filmic qualities, allowing often highly left-field ideas to enter the public consciousness.
‘End’ is their first non-soundtrack work since 2016’s ‘The Wilderness’, and it’s a suitably impressive cycle of ideas that salutes the band’s shared roots. A trim seven tracks, opener ‘Ten Billion People’ sweeps you away in its sonic force, a tidal wave of guitar effects that taps into the primal power of their live shows.
‘Moving On’ swaps this for something delicate, perhaps raw. The complex interplay of the guitars is echoed by those doom-laden piano notes, the piece rising and falling like an Autumn gale. ‘Loved Ones’ has a stark sense of solemnity, so redolent of those empty West Texan landscapes, while ‘Peace Or Quiet’ moves from a whisper to a roar across its wild expanse.
‘All Mountains’ embodies the band’s picturesque aspects, Explosions In The Sky operating as one single, solitary unit. ‘The Fight’ spasms with restraint, a signal that while their ambitions remain colossal, the Texan group do less-is-more better than anyone. Closer ‘It’s Never Going To Stop’ illuminates with its radiance, its eight-minute span representing one of the album’s more expansive aspects.
Returning to artist duties after a spell focussed on soundtrack work, ‘End’ finds Explosions In The Sky revelling in boundaryless creativity. Often melodically startling, the work contained therein feels close to definitive – if you’ve ever thought to explore their work, but not had the chance, this is the perfect entry point.
Words: Robin Murray