Post-rock has taken many great forms since its inception. Over time it has expanded as a genre that takes in influences from an immense variety of musical spaces, with bands incorporating all sorts of elements until some have become staples while others still remained outliers. Paint for the Blind are a great example of a post-rock band, that doesn’t shy away from writing love letters to their ancestors while throwing their grasp firmly into the future.
The band’s name references the trials and tribulations of the artist and the imperfect means of communicating with their target audience. Of course, imperfection, at least in the context of music, can be a veritable well of beauty. Although in the particular case of the record I’ll be tackling, there are few imperfections to really speak of. Still, in their incipient phase, Paint for the Blind, bring to us a highly compelling, dynamic, and authentic debut record — “The Unfolding“.
“The Unfolding” is a highly poetic musical expression that strides along a post-rock core, with incursions in instrumental metal and a wide array of metallic components. It would be quite difficult and exhausting to pin each and every bit to its source, and frankly, quite useless. Suffice to say that the ample musical landscape that’s present, enriches the tapestry upon which “The Unfolding” unfurls its threads.
We witness catchy motifs being repeated, like that sweet lead riff in ‘Brought no Relief‘, blissful and airy textures like the first two opening minutes of the record belonging to ‘From Whence We Came‘, hypnotic grooves like the one going through the second minute of ‘Just Better Days’, and very many other great moments. These aren’t only a testament to the huge engagement factor of the record, but also to the fact that there are many memorable parts. I’ve honestly racked my brain trying to figure out what’d be my favorite part of the album and I arrived at basically no conclusion.
Tying into that, it’s also because of how the album flows from one song to the next. It wasn’t necessarily envisioned as a collection of songs, but rather as a single megalithic unit, which, for the sake of modern convenience, was split into songs. Speaking of flow, I couldn’t help but notice how the song titles also seem to blend together as well, forming a single unit. It kind of reads like part of a poem and in my head, it came pieced together something like this:
From whence we came
our stricken ways brought no relief,
just better days.
Thus muddles thoughts
engrave our hearts,
perchance to dream;
It feels like something too vague to attribute a clear meaning to, or rather, too open-ended to pick only one development for it. Although, the emotional charge of the words resonates intensely with the music which they represent. The tunes themselves traverse a substantial range of emotions, running the gamut from tender and angelic, through mysterious and arcane, all the way to downright aggressive and dark. This boundless spiritual weight is carried gracefully by the compositions and is more than aptly conveyed to me, the listener. In a sense, it’s only further augmented by the album visualizer made by the band for the album, which showcases dark tones of blue and purple illuminating monolithic structures in a misty ethereal landscape.
As I immersed myself deeper into the album, the entire ordeal started feeling more and more like an experience, the experience of an adventure, a riveting story told with practically no words, traversing entire worlds in its nigh all-encompassing narrative, allowing me to transcend barriers and go to places I never knew existed, but always wanted to visit.
After well over a dozen listens, I must say that I wasn’t impressed by a debut like this in quite some time. I would also dare say that “The Unfolding” is one of my favorite albums of this year. Not only did it scratch a plethora of musical itches, but it’s also a variant of post-rock which feels fresh, different, and energetic while retaining all the wistfulness and effortless beauty that’s associated with that genre tag.
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