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Caroline - caroline Music Album Reviews

Caroline - caroline Music Album Reviews
Five years in the making, the UK band’s debut accomplishes something nearly impossible for a largely instrumental post-rock album: to project urgency and timelessness simultaneously.

An earnest belief in a better tomorrow didn’t seem quite as radical when caroline formed in 2017. Like a lot of people that year, guitarist and vocalist Casper Hughes was inspired by a nascent counterinsurgence of activism by people who’d previously participated in politics from the sidelines. As several band members canvassed for Jeremy Corbyn in the United Kingdom’s general election, Hughes channeled his cautious optimism for a more equitable future into the lyrics to “Good Morning (Red).”

Five years later, it’s the second song on caroline’s self-titled debut and, as with much recent pop culture, runs the risk of being tied to its era, either too specific or too naive to resonate in a time of increasingly immediate terror. While the lyrics of “Good Morning (Red)” haven’t changed, Hughes’ performance has adjusted to a new context. When he shouts, “Can I be happy in this world? We’ll have to change it, it doesn’t suit us,” it’s more desperate, a demand rather than a question. Words are sparse on caroline, but that indomitable, communal spirit courses throughout, accomplishing something nearly impossible for a largely instrumental post-rock album: to project urgency and timelessness simultaneously.

If caroline’s hopeful tenor puts them at odds with the political climate, it’s done just as much to set them apart from their presumptive peers. Released by Rough Trade and sharing a producer with black midi, caroline’s 2020 debut single “Dark Blue” established a loose affiliation with the UK’s burgeoning post-punk scene while actively contradicting its stylistic tropes. Contrary to the anxious, monological Fall fanfic that collages absurdities and abstractions until they register as “commentary on modern existence” or whatever, “Dark Blue” provoked vast, elemental emotions without being overt about which ones, a towering cumulus that hovers for nearly seven minutes and never breaks.

In the two years since, about half of caroline has been released in some form. Similar to Black Country, New Road’s For the first time, it’s as much a compilation as a debut, an imposed deadline for a band accustomed to constant tinkering. The sequencing is vaguely chronological, with the first half reflecting a more accessible, “triumphant emo” version of caroline. “Dark Blue” and “Good Morning (Red)” have been in development since the group’s origins as a duo in 2017: guitars still play legible chords and tangled arpeggios, countable rhythms are dictated by a standard drum set, and languid vocal melodies sound composed rather than improvised. Taken together, “Dark Blue” and “Good Morning (Red)” are like an album within an album, so complementary and complete that they threaten to overshadow everything that follows. The former’s simmering tension gives way to a bleary vulnerability, a hangover slowly transforming to a flicker of hope for the day ahead. One repeats a mantra of “I want it all,” the other aches for serenity. If caroline had tried to sustain this emotional pitch for the entire album, it might have come off as manipulative, too self-consciously cinematic.

But caroline take a molecular-gastronomy approach to both sweeping post-rock and weeping Midwest emo, toying with structure, arrangement, and texture. As it progresses, caroline becomes a daring document of its creators’ process, maintaining just enough convention to draw attention to the way their atypical presentation defies it. Looser compositions like “Engine (eavesdropping)” are the result of endless studio hours obsessing over the imperfections captured within improvisation, contact mics, and room sound. caroline would rather let a track collapse before they resort to a stock post-rock crescendo. Having only recently solidified their eight-person lineup, they’re still exploring the correlation between their strengths and interests. Of the four interlude-length tracks, the most compelling is “desperately,” a solo showcase for cellist and vocalist Jasper Llewellyn, whose earthy and operatic quaver evokes a virtuoso moonlighting as a shepherd; it’s an instrument all the more devastating for its scarcity throughout caroline. Meanwhile, the longest interlude, “Zilch,” is two minutes of what sounds like someone trying to cut rusted guitar strings with a dull knife. The choice to include something so willfully challenging feels more like a philosophical point than a purely musical one.

My best guess is that it’s intended to demystify the album itself, or at least to honor the ugly mistakes and tedious workshopping that accompany the creation of even the most miraculous pieces of recorded music. “Zilch” segues into a nine-minute finale called “Natural Death,” which recalls the most mesmerizingly static compositions of the Microphones (who selected the group as an opener for their UK shows in late 2021). caroline have clearly absorbed lessons from Phil Elverum’s studio explorations: They share a belief in expressing the awesome power and fallibility of nature through analog decay, repetition, and minimalist drone played at concussive volumes. Small gestures matter in music this exploratory and sometimes there’s only so much you can capture within the music itself. Even caroline’s studio version of “Skydiving onto the library roof” might not be the definitive one: In the “Pool #2” rendition, the entire thing moves not on the two-note motif that runs throughout its entirety, but a small nod by Hughes that indicates when it repeats; the rest of the band responds as if in a private language. In this small, unspoken moment, caroline’s ideals as a “collective” extend beyond simply having a lot of band members. Theirs is a higher-minded definition of the term, a group whose fidelity to their own logic and laws approaches the utopian.

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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Caroline - caroline Music Album Reviews Caroline - caroline Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, March 07, 2022 Rating: 5

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