Our Brother The Native: Make Amends For We Are Merely Vessels

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Theo Ellington

28th February 2008
At 02:35 GMT

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Another week, another album that may or may not of managed the top mark. What does it take exactly to earn that coveted ten.

Engaged in much discussion with the various members of Strange Glue, we ended up boiling it down to the challenging questions of; Is this a life changing album? Is it original? Does it have timeless brilliance?

As you may be able to decipher from the forthcoming paragraphs, our answers ranged from 'yes' to 'possibly', to 'maybe' to 'almost' to 'likely'. We're a decisive bunch, on occasion.

What is clear from only a few minutes in, is that this is intended as a more challenging experience to heart and mind than you're likely to get - or even expect - from the majority of albums that will be released this year.

With the members originating from backgrounds ranging from circuit bending and classical composition to the learning of advanced percussion. One thing that is certain is that these three individuals are certainly not lacking in knowledge. This does not come across with any kind of musical snobbery or the use of compositions that would only be appreciated by like-minded individuals though. Instead they have used their formidable knowledge to craft works of understandable beauty that, at times weave close to the heart, and at others, withdraw from it or abandon it completely, to create pictures of all sorts and depths. A battle of two opposing wills.

It is begun by the imposing residence of 'Rejoice', which simmers with distinctly dissimilar instrumentation bound by the steadily expanding and increasingly unsettling movements which eventually manage to clog up the atmospherics causing the sound to become a difficult surface to penetrate. Then, after unveiling itself from amidst the storms created, down fall the lightly-lit sounds as though the very purpose of the album thus far is now as clear as day.

With all obstacles now circumvented, 'Make Amends For We Are Merely Vessels' falls into a bout of rest surrounded by the voices of a calm choral ensemble, leaving you in a state of peace.

'As they Fall Beneath Us' follows in displaying some of the diverse imagery created with the ingenious sound design of Joshua Bertram. Featuring sounds that seem to mimic creatures and then have the voices contorted into something entirely different, backed with admirable environmental additions.

'We Are the Living' the first of the tracks to feature more traditional structure is a truly astonishing showpiece of aspiring vocals interspersed with well thought out musical score, whose appeal is an entirely unique property.

From the commencement of 'Younger' though, is where the points of contention begin. To some the album may begin to feel too drawn out. Although not necessarily a catastrophe, it does nonetheless place a discernable blight upon the character of this album, leaving the top score so near, yet forever out of it's grasp.

Our Brother...'s reluctance to completely sever ties with the genre of post-rock is one of their burdens and raises the question of whether they are simply remaining somewhat in a genre for the sake of easier recognition or whether this is the leap forward their particular form of music needed igniting with.

One last laudable addition is the finale chorus on 'The Multitudes are Dispersing', which is a hall full of voices singing once again a song which seems to utter calls for hope leaving for a memorable finish. In the end it's probably quite pointless to base this album on a score alone, because this is more a point of opinion on whether 'Make Amends For We Are Merely Vessels' is a perfect album, or merely a fantastic one. One point of clarity that emerges though, is that it's certainly worth the effort to make up your own mind.

Rating:  9 / 10

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