This November, instrumental post-rock/post-metal trio Russian Circles are back from their home base in Chicago to irradiate the grounds of the boiler house in former brewery Kesselhaus in Prenzlauer Berg. Mostly headlining today, they have toured with artists such as Boris, Red Sparowes, Minus the Bear, Mono, and Pelican in their earlier days. Their latest studio album ‘Guidance’ will be showcased for their current tour.
For five albums now, the trio have made great use of post-rock’s most familiar dynamic tricks—loud and quiet; stop and start, swell and subside. But they’ve never had qualms about splicing elements of everything from metal and noise-rock to krautrock and post-hardcore into their darkly dramatic, instrumental compositions.
Their last album, 2013’s ‘Memorial’, fleshed things out even further with keyboards, strings, and guest vocals from Chelsea Wolfe. But on the group’s sixth full-length, ‘Guidance’, a slightly different ethos is at play: the fine art of letting it flow.[soundcloud url=”https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/104565881″ params=”color=ff5500″ width=”100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]
Just as unforced is the emotional gravity of ‘Guidance’. In a recent interview with ‘Destroy/Exist’, Cook explained how the album was inspired by a handful of photos his husband was given at work one day—photos of public executions being held somewhere in Asia. No explanation was given, and since then, the photos had haunted Cook.
Rather than turning ‘Guidance’ into a album-length threnody— ‘Memorial’, after all, kind of fits that bill—there’s an urgency and even a sense of meditative acceptance to songs like ‘Mota’ and ‘Lisboa’. ‘Lisboa’ is also the only song on ‘Guidance’ that truly, fully commits to the sudden, super-quiet/super-loud dynamic that’s become post-rock standard issue. But here, when the band shifts abruptly from hush to hurricane, it feels like a introspective collapse rather than an explosion.[bandcamp width=100% height=120 album=1401904380 size=large bgcol=ffffff linkcol=0687f5 tracklist=false artwork=small]
Unlike a huge portion of heavy and/or post-rock albums, lately or in the past—including records in Russian Circles’ own back catalog—there are no lengthy, eight-minute-plus tracks on ‘Guidance’. Nor are there any brief interludes. Aside from delicate, folk-like opener “Asa,” each track occupies a relatively uniform span of time: roughly around the six-minute mark.
Conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that such uniformity would make for a flat feeling; instead, Russian Circles use the strictness of that structure to explore numerous ways of wringing contemplation and ecstatic out of its tightly bound, three-person setup. Then again, that’s what Russian Circles—even at their most sprawling—have always done: searched for resonance and depth in the turbulence around us. (Pitchfork)
Sunday, 6th November 2016 | 20:00 CET
Kesselhaus Berlin | Schönhauser Allee 36 | 10435 Berlin, Germany