March 6, 2008

Isis - Panopticon

Artist: Isis
Album: Panopticon
Year: 2004
Είδος: Post-Rock Hardcore, Experimental

There are a few bands out there these days that are doing the "post-metal" thing: blending the repetition, tension-building, and soft-loud dynamics of post-rock with the crunchy riffing and throaty vocals of extreme metal. Some of them are even very good; but even the likes of
Neurosis and Pelican can't hold a candle to Isis.

It's always nice to see a band that not only evolves with every release, but gets better with every release; Isis is one of those bands. Their early EPs were fairly relentlessly brutal metal soundscapes, but slowly and surely they've opened up their sound, discovered the joys of space and pacing and dynamics, and it all comes to a beautiful culmination with Panopticon. The band takes a concept from Michel Foucault's complex theories of social power, brings it into the modern world, and runs with it musically and presumably lyrically (though the singing is mostly unintelligible). The album art depicts vast panoramas, satellite photos of cities that look like desolate urban wastelands; and amazingly, the music follows through: there's a sense of unpretentious grandeur and epic scope that I've never heard before from a metal band (Isis' own, earlier, efforts included).
Isis get compared to Mogwai a lot, and from the beginning of this album it's easy to see why: they revel in stretching out over long instrumental buildups before exploding briefly into furious assaults of distortion and guttural vocals. It's those long stretches of tension that make Panopticon so good: the band has become extremely adept at crafting compelling soundscapes with little more than a guitar playing a repetitive lead, a second guitar screaming pseudo-melodically off in the distance, heavily echoed or otherwise manipulated (it's often this second guitar that gives the music its sense of scope and wide-open spacing), and the rhythm section slowly driving the whole affair to a cathartic crescendo. Occasionally, subtle keyboards are thrown into the mix to further the atmosphere, always to great effect.
If there's a complaint to be had about this album, it's that it's perhaps too long by about eight minutes and twenty-seven seconds. The penultimate track, "Altered Course," features an incredibly moody and slow-burning buildup that comes to a quiet resolution rather than a loud one: the sound of a band at peace, satisfied with its work and ready to trudge home, weary but happy. This would be a perfect way to end a phenomenal album; instead we get one last track, which isn't necessarily worse than anything else on the album, but which just seems extraneous after the reverent conclusion of "Altered Course".
Despite that, there's not a duff track here; each and every one adds to the emotional impact of the album as a whole. Michel Foucault, as quoted in the liner notes, said that "in the central tower [of the Panopticon], one sees everything without ever being seen." It is nigh on impossible to tell what Isis thinks of this power relationship, given that the lyrics remain unprinted, but one thing is certain: their music conveys a sense of vision, a sense of seeing all, a sense of being above the fray, untouched by the messiness of the world below yet tinged with a great deal of its magnificence and beauty. (

Καλιφορνέζικο τρελό κουιντέτο..Επτά κομμάτια που διαρκούν μία περίπου ώρα, μεταφράζονται σ’ ένα ταξίδι που στο μεγαλύτερό του μέρος θα μπορούσε να χαρακτηριστεί ξέφρενο, με το γκρουπ να μην γνωρίζει σύνορα και να διατρέχει πολλά και διαφορετικά μουσικά στυλ, ισορροπώντας διαρκώς ανάμεσα στο αλά post rock μελωδικό και το αλά stoner rock βαρύ.. οι τύποι παίζουν post-everything, δηλ. post-metal, post-hardcore, post-rock.Ένας χείμαρρος από απίστευτα riffs κιθάρας και μπάσου που όταν εναλλάσσονται με τις μελωδίες σε κάνουν να χάνεις της αίσθηση του τόπου και του χρόνου, και ένα απίστευτο ταξίδι ξεκινάει που σταματάει μόνο με το άκουσμα της τελευταίας νότας.Οι δυναμικές αλλάζουν συνέχεια, τα brutal φωνητικά τα διαδέχονται καθαρά, οι αρμονίες (ειδικά στα ακουστικά περάσματα) είναι υπεράνω κριτικής και το μπάσο παίζει ηγετικό ρόλο στο όλο μουσικό οικοδόμημα...γενικά το όλο άκουσμα πρόκειται για εμπειρία...Όταν τα λόγια παύουν να έχουν σημασία και η δύναμη της μουσικής σαρώνει τα πάντα στο διάβα της...

Δείτε εδώ απο μια εμφάνιση τους περυσι το καλοκαίρι στο club An στην Αθήνα ..και ακούστε το αγαπημένο μου κομμάτι αυτού του δίσκου.Συγκλονιστικό!!


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