Flight Of The Penguin is a solo project from an artist in Galveston, Texas. It’s apparently a side project from To Whom It May which I haven’t heard. I did however spend some time with A Sleeping Dragon which is a five song EP.
I first off have to give the artist props for making a good sounding post-rock album all on his own. Post-rock by all accounts is a genre that sounds best with a full band in a room. You only need to look at the most popular and notable acts the genre has to offer like Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Mogwai, Explosions in the Sky and Do Make Say Think to hear this.
There are some great melodies throughout this EP coming from both the bass and guitar. Take for instance the opener “53 Seconds” where there is great back and forth between the instruments in a way where neither one takes a clear lead. The melodies and pattern are hypnotic and as with most post-rock slowly reaches a crescendo. Again to his credit it seems like the field recording sample was used to tell a story.
In this case the artist explains “This EP centers around the subject of the Manhattan Project. Each track features dialogue from individuals involved in the creation and use of the atomic bomb, and their description of how it affected them.” Very cool - I’m down with the idea of the narrative. On the other side you could argue Godspeed You! Black Emperor may have inadvertently made this idea of inserting samples too prevalent and ubiquitous within the genre. It feels like every other post-rock song I listen to implements this to add dramatic effect. More to the artist's credit I feel like he used to with tact. Take for instance “For Better Or For Worse”. The sample here certainly feels like the focal point of the song. He changes the volume of the sample but also quite brilliantly uses it in a more melodic fashion around a minute and a half mark to create this whirlwind of psychedelic sound.
“The Gadget” is the highlight and centerpiece. This song is a ride that is dynamic and don’t miss the killer bass line around the four minute mark. “The Paradox” felt like a vignette that has a cerebral quality to it. In fact so did the closing song “Most People Were Silent” which also had this cerebral, reflective quality that feels a little more in the wheelhouse of Explosions in the Sky.
This release felt dedicated to fans of post-rock by checking off a lot of the criteria that makes the genre what it is. I think there are a lot of people who will embrace what is here. Take a listen.
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