On Stella Mori, which is their first album in seven years, the Salt Lake City, Utah-based post-rock group I Hear Sirens have captured a sonically pristine and emotionally resonant journey into a metaphorical great beyond.
Throughout the group’s new record, right up to the powerful crescendo at the very end, the songs soar with an emotionally earnest-sounding series of riffs and rhythms that feel like they guide listeners into a sort of birds-eye view perspective on our lives down here on Earth.
The often somberly proceeding melodies feel like they capture states of emotional tension, like that found in moments where we might grapple with two potential paths of choices or confront a looming chasm between where we are and where we’d like to be. The powerful yet frequently rather peaceful-feeling energy that runs through Stella Mori seems like an opening to honestly assess the breadth of the emotional situation. The songs feel emotionally uneasy, yet secure and subtly triumphant.
The Themes of Stella Mori
“A lot of the inspiration evolved from the personal struggles we were dealing with at the time,” the band shares. “I think we all just wanted to create something that captured the emotions we were experiencing. This album feels more like a personal diary than our previous releases. The songs probably take on a different meaning for each of us. That’s the great thing about instrumental music. The interpretation can be unique to the listener.”
“It was dark times at different moments for each of us,” they add, discussing some more specifics. “The loss of a parent, a failing relationship, our own insecurities and mental health issues. There’s a sense of sadness with a light at the end of the tunnel sort of vibe to the record.”
Some of the broad structures of Stella Mori feel invitingly familiar, and there’s never really a sense of total emotional oppression, no matter the consistently rather solemn and contemplative mood.
I Hear Sirens include some richly poignant dynamics atop this foundation. As the extended melodies unfold across the record like a horizon full of storm clouds settling into place, moments like the track “Ad Caelum” deliver particularly striking musical snapshots. There are no lyrics on the record, so it’s up to the power of the riffs to tell the whole “story,” and the band delivers big time — “Ad Caelum,” which appears towards the record’s beginning, feels like setting off on a boat towards an overcast horizon, with a steady stream of waves running up against the side of your boat. There’s an especially cacophonous and heavy vibe on the track, punctuated by the steady riffs.
“We’re all a little fascinated with science and space,” the band explains. “The combination of beauty and chaos. An ethereal atmosphere with dark undertones. That’s pretty evident on this record — though a lot of it just sort of radiated from our individual personal struggles at that point in time.”
It wouldn’t be difficult to imagine Stella Mori as some kind of soundtrack for an emotionally grounded movie hinging on making some kind of long journey.
Connecting with the Post-Rock Community
For now, the record is the soundtrack to I Hear Sirens returning to the music creation process.
“It feels amazing to be back in the mix of things with the new album and the recent signings with Post. Recordings and Dunk Records,” the band shares. “The vibe is pretty awesome right now with the band. We just recently added a new bass player, Sarita Ford. She’s been fantastic! Chemistry is one of the most important things in a band, and we all jive together really well. We’re definitely excited about the new record, and things to come in the near future!”
In the time since their debut, self-titled EP — which came out a little over a decade ago at this point — the members of I Hear Sirens are happy to see how connectivity within the post-rock community has progressed.
“It definitely feels like more of a tight knit community than it was when we started out,” the group shares. “There was some of that back in 2005. The Silent Ballet was our ‘go to’ site for post-rock news, reviews and message boards. That was great, but the support for the post-rock community has grown quite a bit since then. It’s amazing to see all the blogs, YouTube channels and social media pages promoting the artists in the genre. Not to mention the bands and labels supporting each other. It’s fantastic!”
As for their own work, the band looks forward to forging new paths.
“We’re happy with the current state of the post-rock community, and how it’s evolving. Everyone is doing their thing. It’s great to see the progression and successes of our peers,” they share. “With our band in particular, we’d like to experiment a little more. Our song writing has matured, but we haven’t ventured too far outside the box. That’s something we’re hoping to explore as we begin writing the next record.”
Listen to Stella Mori below: