Thursday, September 29, 2011

Record review: To Destroy A City - self-titled LP

By Sasha Geffen

If To Destroy A City's chosen moniker--a peculiar infinitive in lieu of the traditional noun route--implies a kind of violence, their music itself delves more into the wake of that violence, the quiet and horrified sensation that floods destruction's aftermath. The post-rock ensemble's self-titled debut LP paints a world almost delirious with its own sadness, a world washed in echoes and loss. While many artists may fill the more ambient genres with limp and aimless drones, To Destroy A City thankfully reminds me of the raw power post-rock can assume when woven with skill.

As far as the previous generation of the genre goes, To Destroy A City follows Texan outfit Hammock's shadow most closely. Upon first listen, the somber and misty textures on the LP could be easily mistaken for Kenotic b-sides. But this isn't 2004, and To Destroy A City isn't out to make a record that's existed for half a decade. They begin in the fertile ground the aughts laid down for post-rock, as the perfect drizzled streams of opener "Metaphor" show us, but quickly kick the sounds of their predecessors into the present. To Destroy A City takes those slow, sad washes and bones them up with harder industrial beats. The resulting compositions are still dark, still foggy, but invigorated with new momentum.
The crossing of genres is demonstrated best on the tight little knot of a song 'The Marvels of Modern Civilization', which provides the opposite of a pause between aching Sigur Ros-reminiscent stretches. It's an example of the record flexing its muscles for a moment, a flash of teeth from a sleeping giant. While the larger songs that make up the meat of the record may be ultimately better and more polished, it's this moment that ought to make you the most excited for To Destroy A City's future as a force within their genre. 

If you loved Hammock six or seven years ago, you will find yourself loving To Destroy A City for the same reasons. Even those best acquainted with ambient electronica through The Social Network's soundtrack should find plenty to enjoy--and maybe even to be transformed by--here. The LP stands as a solid, gorgeous debut from a band that already promises to reinvigorate this generation of post-rock with fascinating new work.

The LP is out now on CD and mp3 on n5MD.

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