The End of the Ocean’s -aire quickly occupies an almost surprisingly unique place among post-rock records. To be sure, this feature might not be too surprising to someone familiar with the band, but this first release from the band in over seven years almost immediately jumps out with a caliber akin to bands like Russian Circles. The End of the Ocean feel like they’re unafraid to push the boundaries of their craft to new limits and then jump right past them, feeling less concerned with understanding what’s already been charted and more into trailblazing entirely new paths — which is why most of us started on this journey anyway.
In familiar post-rock fashion, there are no lyrics on -aire, but the band move a journey along all the same. Fittingly enough, the music at times feels like the flowing of the ocean waves via its substantively relentless nature, but that’s not where the release’s dynamics end. The band sound especially concerned with exploring contrast, and not just for the sake of the contrast itself or for the sake of a “wow!” moment of technical prowess that’s quickly forgotten. Keeping on with the ironically fitting ocean metaphor, the post-rockers behind -aire feel like they’re swirling both an almost manic intensity and gentle flowing into the service of a greater whole. That “whole” encompasses both the listeners and the artists behind the record.
They’re clearly competent and comfortable at both ends of the sonic spectrum and the back-and-forth jolting the listener like they’re on a boat traversing troubled waters (wow the ocean metaphors just keep working) keeps the listener focused and repeatedly draws them back into the task at hand — the journey encapsulated in the music. That journey can be rather open-ended in its presentation, especially since The End of the Ocean do play post-rock, but no matter initial ambiguity it’s difficult to walk away from -aire without feeling something.
Ironically enough considering the band operates in a genre often known for soundscapes, -aire isn’t really “background music,” which proves not only fresh but a welcome change that really lands. Even without any lyrics, The End of the Ocean have something important to say about the sheer breadth of our existence — our love, our loss, our sleeping and our waking, and the strange invisible cords binding it all together.
Listen below via Bandcamp. The full album releases January 18 via Equal Vision Records.