The first time I listened to Explosion in the Sky, I scoffed, “Hmmph. A second-rate mono.”
That’s because Explosions in the Sky sits closer to the tonal end of the instrumental rock spectrum, where mono occupies the dissonant end.
Dissonance appeals to my inner-composer, so it was easy to dismiss Explosion in the Sky.
Until I got to know The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place.
Even though the five-track album clocks in at 45 minutes — an average of 9 minutes per track — it’s not a length of time squandared by randomness.
The pieces on The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place (they’re too fucking long to be called “songs”) have all the deliberate architecture of chamber music. There’s a momentum to these works, a greater sense of structure at play where paying close attention provides many rewards.
This album would definitely fail Musicwhore.org’s Music for Airports test.
That said, it’s pointless to distinguish stand-out tracks. The negative adjective would be “homogenous”, which the album certainly is. But it’s the kind of homogeniety that feels cohesive.
It’s not symphonic, though, because the album isn’t that complex.
But it is quite beautiful.
The guitar parts interweave in way that’s almost canonical, and that goes a long way in keeping a listener interested.
In fact, it’s almost easy to hear The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place orchestrated, or at the very least, arranged from amplified string quartet.
That said, The Earth Is Not a Cold, Dead Place is less an album and more an orchestral work, performed without an orchestra.