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Concert Report: This Will Destroy You & I am the Architect

img  Tobias

Forget about self-proclaimed experts and journalists subsuming either every band without a singer under the “Post Rock” moniker or using it to brand a higher than usual degree of intellectualism (“oh, so you know who Proust is?”) in their arrangements: Isn’t all rock „post“ in a way, the genre inherently singing about its own demise and bewailing its death? Tonight, however, Münster’s Gleis 22 is treated to a different vision, courtesy of two groups fighting out a friendly battle of means, techniques and wordless songs on stage.

Local heroes I am the Architect, with a freshly recorded Demo under their belt, are the opening act, a four-piece of bass, drums and a double guitar-faction regularly supported by a well-dosed array of electronic effects, grooves and textures. It is encouraging to see this kind of band rear their head again – the time that their declared inspirations Mogwai would rock the clubs wasn’t the worst, after all, and in a sense, the intent of attaining the lyrical fragility and naive aggression of formations like Aerogramme and Sigur Ros with purely instrumental means and without the pull of their nasal and heavenly vocal pull respectively is much more than just harking back to days of glory, but a mission statement worthy of widespread attention.

When the first guitar lines rise from the club’s cosy innards, the crowd strumbles into the heat from the cooling Summer night, forming grouped clusters in front of the characteristically small stage with its theater-like curtain. Of course, I am the Architect have invited and brought along their entourage and friends, but the public’s interest is genuine and stems just as much from personal affinity as from a deep musical interest: Their MySpace profile is marked by joyous remarks of how such a band could spring forth from Münster’s otherwhise rather mainstream-rock oriented belly. On this occasion, their biggest live performance to date without doubt, they proove this interest completely justified.

The band’s communication is tight on stage and eschews the typical epic pastoral feel of some of their colleagues. Melodies are more defined than the genre is usually accustomed to, carrying across several chords without getting too lush. Most importantly, though, the group favours a diverse sound, integrating piano motives into their beats, weaving sperical chords into their arrangements and charging from sonorous outbursts to sensitive, quieter moments. On the whole, their performance is visually unspectacular and draws from the strength of their tracks, but that is of minor importance, as it is also concisely short, ending roughly after half an hour.

Standing outside during the interval with a friend, I can see This Will Destroy You enter through the club’s bicycle repair shop, carrying cymbals and guitars in their hands. There is something endearing about this picture: In the States, the band has by now accumulated a lot of moment on the strength of their debut album “Young Mountain”, a six track miniature which has made a phenomenal impact on a scene by some considered inexistent, but rock stats they still ain’t. Now touring in support of their second, self-titled full-length, the smell of whitnessing something very special, very exciting, and – possibly - seminal lingers sharply in their air.

As anyone who has listened to the new work will readily testify, this set of expectations is completely understandable. While “Young Mountain” had a breakable charm and an edgey punk-vibe to it, resulting in pieces both emphatic and intimate, “This Will Destroy You” (the record) is an intoxicating journey through up to ten-minute long emotional cardiograms, their minutely sensitive needles documenting every heartbeat, every sigh, every tear. Of course, they could probably be “big” with the addition of a singer, but noone who has listened to the current material will seriously suggest that option.

On stage, the group is even more prickly, savouring the harsher edges of their sound. The architecture of the Gleis 22, with a sight-obscurring pillar placed almost in the middle of the room and its low podium, automatically implies that few in the audience will be able to get a full taste of the action. On the other hand, even from where we’re standing, watching fragements of the rotating and propelling arms of the guitar players and the muscular percussion style of Drummer Andrew Miller are quite enough to keep the attention level high.

This Will Destroy You thrust themselves into their set with full force, turning the opener “A three legged workhorse” from their new album into a dramatic story of loss and holding on to things you can not keep. In contrast to I am the Architect, who leant on a unified and transparent overall timbre, the Quartet is dominated by the deep reverberations of Bassist Ray Brown, a Dub-fan’s wet dream and an elastic propulsion carrying the music to a highly physical level: The contrast between short, poignant and almost bluesy guitar themes and Brown’s monolithic wall of frequencies is definitely one of their trademarks tonight.

The other is the ebb and flow of their pieces. The band does enjoy the contrast between nervous tension and controlled explosions, but it is not so much the loud/quiet dynamic which they are after, but rather an emotional continuum of undulating wavelengths. Sometimes, a single chord is repeated for minutes without once sounding the same. What sounds pretentious on paper is really a music which shines brightest in the light of a solitary candle and which can be summed up with a single adjective: Romantic.

At the end of the concert, there is quite some commotion at the merchandising booth, T-shirts and CDs flying over the counter in rapd-fire succession. It is a positive sign that tonight’s music was anything but “post” or”progressive” – but perfectly rooted in the present.

By Tobias Fischer

Homepage: Gleis 22
Homepage: I am the Architect
Homepage: This Will Destroy You

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