Review: And So I Watch You From Afar – The Endless Shimmering

It is, undoubtedly, a good sign when you realise that you have listened to an album three times on repeat, in one sitting. A sequence that can lift the mood in any room, ‘The Endless Shimmering’ certainly helped me in navigating across the seemingly endless sea of job applications that waits at the end of the student experience. I found myself quickly engrossed in the music; immersed in the imagery invoked by each song.

ASIWYFA are a group that I had heard of but not listened to – a trend among music fans that often suggests that imminent fame is awaiting a band. In this instance, the team have evidently been on the rise for a couple of years, gathering avid fans from all over the musical spectrum. At the release of fifth album, I am able to confirm that their sound is more striking than ever before.

Lead predominantly by guitarist Rory Friers (founding member Tony Wright left the band two albums ago), a heavy focus on guitars governs the collection. Similar to the way in which the violin playing of Warren Ellis – main player in instrumental rock band The Dirty Three – comprised the melodic nexus of the group, guitars govern the latest musical creation of the four member rock collective.

Throughout their career, the members of ASIWYFA  have only occasionally sung in unison; instead, they have chosen to remain largely instrumental. This, for many listeners, reinforces the commitment of the band to an unspoken democratic ideal: it is as if each member has agreed that instrumental music is far too scared for the accompaniment of vocals. Each story within a song is depicted through music, not words.

Sargent House – the management company with which the team released the album – have performed an immaculate job. Home to a caché of Omar Rodriguez Lopez solo records as well as Zach Hill’s pre-Death Grips side projects, it is fair to deduce that this is a record label that actively encourages shredding. In my eyes, “Noodlers Welcome” may as well be their motto – and ‘The Endless Shimmering’ is a welcome addition to that particular style of guitar playing.

It is easy to lose oneself in a ceaseless loop of ‘A Slow Unfolding Of Wings’; its effect is unbelievably addictive. ‘Dying Giants’, however, appears to have been shoehorned in to the album – its unrelenting onslaught of guitars becomes somewhat tedious after a few seconds. Aside from the unnecessary baggage of instrumental thrashing, this is, overall, a perfectly solid rock album – an enjoyable adventure that features acrobatic guitar riffs and energetic cymbal whips.

Occasional detours into light orchestration compliment the otherwise singular – albeit captivating – dynamic of rock. A revered classical music trope recurs throughout the album, injecting a certain sense of sophistication into it. Are the group beginning to demonstrate a serious edge? If they are, it is reluctantly; they are clearly still rockers to the core.

All in all, ‘The Endless Shimmering’ provides a pleasant diversion from the outside world into a wordless place; a safe-zone from the strife that currently plagues modern existence.

So let’s dance – awkwardly and individually – but, nevertheless, together.

Eoghan Wilkie

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