Thursday, March 8, 2012

Symphonies of guitars

So my last post ended with a video of Explosions in the Sky. So what's the deal with them?

EitS are primarily 4 guys from Austin, Texas. 3 guitarists and 1 drummer. No vocalist. They have a hired gun bassist on tour. They do instrumentals. You might have heard them from the Friday Night Lights soundtrack. They are utterly amazing.

Well, that's a bold claim, right? To me they are amazing. Songs can be catchy with the usual verse/chorus/verse/chorus/bridge/chorus thing going. Hey it worked for the Beatles, right? (I am aware they often started WITH the chorus, so just go with me)

These songs are not so much songs in the classic sense, but soundscapes. Better yet, they are symphonies done with guitars. Each of the three guitarists are in essence doing their own thing, but it is all brought together to create a thing of beauty.

Here's another cut from their latest record. This is called "Be Comfortable Creature."

It takes some time to build. It's almost as if the song is waking up. At the 3-minutes-in point the melody of the song has been found and is being worked around. Each guitar creating it's piece of the song.

There are other bands that do this kind of thing. Mogwai and Take Acre spring right to mind. Both are excellent, but to me there is a beauty in these songs that is unlike anything I have ever heard. And they pull it off live, which is an amazing thing. Studio trickery can make anything happen, but to see it on stage is a sight. Here's a photo I snapped when I saw them in Baltimore last winter:

Yeah, I was kind of close. You'll notice here the guitarist is kneeling down right in front of me, not for conversation, but to work his effects pedals during the song. Each of them has a LOT of pedals. And they use them to great effect (pardon the pun). And their guitars are obviously important to them. You can't tell here but they are old and beat up and have their straps held on by layers of duct tape. Their instruments mean something to them, they aren't interchangeable, they are an integral part of the band.

Back to the main point. These fellows are pretty much what music is all about to me: creativity, passion, feeling, inspiration. One of my most favorite bands. Hope you like it.

And for future reference, I promise there will be songs with words!


  1. I actually DID think that sounded like something from Friday Night Lights. It didn't occur to me that it really WAS from Friday Night Lights. How about that.

  2. I've known about Explosions in the Sky for a while, and I've liked everything I've heard, but for some reason I never think to buy one of their albums. Which one should I start with?

    1. John, My personal favorite is a record from 2007 called _All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone_. I'd start with that one. If you like that, then I would suggest the new one that these clips are from.