Listening to Falls EP, by The Valley Ends, is like a surreal journey through a softly lit dream-forest. Straddling a three-way split of math rock, post-rock and post-hardcore, the Melbourne two-piece have carefully constructed 23 minutes of musical serenity that forms their impressive debut.
Vocals, capably provided by Tim D’Agostino, form just one strand in the instrumental tapestry spun across the release, sometimes taking the lead, but just as often not. In ‘IV’, the layered vocals are almost entirely subsumed into the glowing synths and bells that surround them, and many other tracks see them take a less prominent role than in the average post-hardcore band. When the vocals are given space to breathe, though, the result is a surprising increase in pace (see ‘Clarity’, ‘Avolition’). Tracks like ‘Transoceanic’ and ‘Lindblom’ also feature soaring vocal hooks that were firmly buried in my skull from the first listen.
The lyrics centre around themes of nature, cleansing, and an escape from corruption and decay. There is a strong sense of narrative – the lyrics trace a story that brings to mind a desperate flight into nature to escape some catastrophe. ‘Clarity’ and ‘Avolition’ in particular seem to be directed firmly at the society the narrator has left behind, reproving them for their dishonesty, greed and ignorance.
Blake Drenth’s instrumental work is definitely the star in The Valley Ends’ crown. There’s more on display than just the traditional twinkling guitars and tight, complex drum work; skittering breakbeats and IDM-style beats, used to great effect on ‘Aphelion’ and ‘IV’, contrast with the ambient melodies they sit in, and organ synths and pianos thicken the texture of the music (especially in the track ‘Transoceanic’). Drenth deftly creates contrast in tonality, time signature and volume without it ever feeling jarring.
There isn’t a great deal out there I can compare The Valley Ends to. Bands that come to mind for me are Mutiny on the Bounty for their tapped guitars, electronics and angular vocal melodies, and the wandering song structures of The Tupolev Ghost. Whatever the scope for comparison, The Valley Ends should be proud of this definitely-above-debut-standard release, for its careful balance of complexity, beauty, diversity and cohesion, and for it’s innovative use of voice as both a focal point and part of the instrumentation. This is a definitive work for the intersection between post-rock and post-hardcore.
Ambient, Post Rock, Post Hardcore, Dreamy, Soothing, Two-Piece, Ethereal, Emo, Vocals
Sounds A Tad Like
Mutiny On The Bounty, The Tupolev Ghost, The Fall Of Troy