Howling Embers is a post-rock band from South Dakota. The band consists of Luke Gorder (drums) and Ben Lemay (guitars/viola/violin/samples/piano). They released a self-titled album Howling Embers where some of the songs date as far back as sixteen years ago.
As a fan of post-rock since the late ‘90s, I’ll say this is one of the better DIY post-rock albums I have recently heard. They implement lush orchestral strings, reverb laced guitars and much more often than not make beautiful soundscapes. Their best moments are arguably the most expansive and ambient veering comparisons to a group like Stars of the Lid rather than Godspeed You! Black Emperor.
Suffice it to say the band has done their homework and that should be evident of people who have followed the progression of this genre. You can clearly hear elements of prolific acts like Explosions in The Sky, Mogwai and many other like-minded bands.
The production is good and worked although there were some things that could have been tweaked. I believe this was a complete DIY effort and a little bit of outside assistance may have benefited some of the things I noticed. I thought the strings in general sounded great. I would have liked to hear more definition from the drums. The snare on certain songs was a bit boxy for my liking.
The band opens with”Center is nowhere, circumference is everywhere” where it initially sounds similar to early Explosions in the Sky. They don’t waste time creating tension to a crescendo in typical post-rock. The transitions are well thought out and quite inventive. I liked the fact that they didn’t go into epic territory right away. Instead the strings swirl and the mood is rather light and hopeful. The emergence of orchestral strings give the song more emotional depth.
“You and I and Wine” and “The cove” are two very impressive songs with arching soundscapes. Sigur Rós and Mogwai were bands that popped into my head. “Polynya” is more stripped back revolving around strings and piano. On this track in particular the band gets into thematic territory and takes a skip across the pond in material that has more in common with a composer like Max Richter. It’s a gorgeous track.
“Storm called cold” explores seamless transitions yet goes into very different territory. The very sparse pads and drone eventually morph into a hopeful array of sounds as if the clouds are parting and you are seeing the sun. They close with “Rhodes of Philodendron” which is a guitar heavy track that solidifies their talent.
Howling Embers is a beautiful album and I don’t say that lightly. If I had heard this twenty years ago it would have broke my brain. My one and only issue is that songs were revisiting concepts, ideas and a collection of textures that felt familiar. They don’t break the mold on this album. What they do is take familiar constructs and create original compositions
Overall, Howling Embers is an album I wouldn’t pass up. At the very least it earned a place next to some of the aforementioned bands on that post-rock playlist you might have on your phone.
Become A Fan
We are dedicated to informing the public about the different types of independent music that is available for your listening pleasure as well as giving the artist a professional critique from a seasoned music geek. We critique a wide variety of niche genres like experimental, IDM, electronic, ambient, shoegaze and much more.
Are you one of our faithful visitors who enjoys our website? Like us on Facebook