Crooked We Stand by 18 Seconds is an album of instrumental guitar-led soundscapes in the vein of Sigur Ros or Explosions In The Sky. There are some really incredible moving moments on the album that with some editing could really soar.
“I Am Empty Are You Too?” Has some well programmed electronic percussion incorporating handclaps and claves that burble under an arpeggiated guitar and a grunged out melodic line that incorporates a long legato line. The “b section” of the song has a Smashing Pumpkins-like chunking guitar pattern complete with squeals. The stereo effects move the melody around towards the middle of the song which make for an interesting effect, afterwards the song moves to what feels like the same loop of music for quite awhile. It’s a well written part but could be half as long to get the same point across. “Raccoon On The Highway” has a catchy driving Pearl Jam-ish progression with a heavily effected melodic line that sings out over it. The song has a fantastic “b-section” that locks into a new groove and has a smart distinct melody that contrasts with the chimey accompaniment.
Locking in with the drums tends to be the weaker moments of the album. “Time Is An Illusion I Am Melting Away” follows an ostinato pattern of a descending line that is reframed by the changes in chords and instruments that find their way in. The tremolo guitars in the background give a swirling atmospheric effect, and the clean acoustic guitar really drives the song. There are a few missed hits in the drums which are unfortunate as it can distract from some of the melodic lines and changes in feels, particularly towards the end of the song.
“Cuddling Bears” opens with a sea of harmonic sounds evoking bowed glass or vibraphones. Soon it’s joined by a haunting chimey guitar line that rises and falls with an Explosions In The Sky type of vibe. Adding in a reverbed piano and occasional cymbal hits completes a very expansive soundscape. There’s a moving string line that enters and works, but the addition of the drums which don’t quite lock in and are a bit busy don’t, however. The song does gel together by the end, but at that point it’s gone on a bit long.
“In The End We’re All The Same” starts out with a strong melody that is soon thrown askew by a descending countermelody that is out of phase. It’s striking and it works towards the title. Again, however the drums take away from the drive and groove of the melody by never quite lining up consistently. “The More I Look, The Less I See” could almost be a U2 instrumental in melodic and harmonic content. The strings and chimes add some intensity over the growling motor of the guitar. Here, the drums add a mostly nice build. “Sifitikki” closes the album with Sigur Ros/Explosions In The Sky atmosphere and some gorgeous guitar tones and melodies. There’s a beautiful hushed quality and the understated nature of the piece works extremely well to create the tone.
The closing song is the strongest song overall on the album (though many of the other ones have lots of strong moments) because the strengths of performance and composition are really shown off. Shortening up some of the sections of the other songs and lining up the percussion could really help them take off. 18 Seconds creates some very smart soundscapes, it would be nice to highlight those strengths even more.
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