The first thing that I noticed when I was made aware of this release was the artwork. A superb piece, that offers a sensation of isolation, desolation, and repossession, with a natural splendour. An eye-catching illustration that is indicative of the quality of work we have come to expect from this Wellington group, Into Orbit. Into Orbit are a post-rock double act, that seek to create immersive musical extravagances, without the need for vocals. Their earlier release Caverns set a very high standard, with an array of musical expeditions that flowed simultaneously with mellifluous emotion and a sterile barrenness.
On my first listen through of this latest statement, Unearthing, I was overcome by the effortless opulence of it. The tones unlocked a calmness and tranquillity, which brought about an sense of inner peace. However, as I go through multiple play-throughs, differences start to become apparent.
Unearthing has a heavier, grungier feel, compared to its predecessor. Distortion levels are at an all-time high, cloaking the overall musical direction of each track. Where Caverns felt like a roaming, undulant voyage, Unearthing began to feel disoriented, adrift, and off course. The simplicity of the compositional structure works in its favour allowing layers to be added and removed as needed, but as time went on, the absence of vocals became flagrantly evident, and the songs begin to feel deficient. The looping effect in use is very similar in style of another kiwi duo, Cairo Knife Fight, adding layers of rhythm, before a melodic lead, though the overall sound is more comparable to the likes of Mono or Explosions in the Sky. The clean melodies are well structured, and are a welcome breath of fresh air amongst the mess of distortion applied to every track.
The title track, Unearthing, has the greatest appeal, with delicate finger-work giving an aura of innocence and fragility. The progression throughout the song is slow, but consistent, until the inevitable introduction of the distortion. Gilgamesh comes in a close second, with a vastly different sound to the rest of the album, showcasing the variety in drummer Ian Moir's repertoire, and a much more balanced use of Paul Stewart's heavy guitar effects, with a cascading djent.
Taken as a whole, Unearthing has a simplicity that allows it to transcend the boundaries of genre; an experience that can be enjoyed by many. The more prominent weighty distortion, however, feels a little too heavy handed, in my opinion, and makes the sound just that little more generic (enough so to give the impression that it would benefit from the addition of lyrics and vocals). The album is still a monumental success for the duo, and I congratulate them for that, but it falls just short of the benchmark set by Caverns.
Into Orbit is a Wellington duo of guitar and drums whose immersive, genre-defying sound contains aspects of experimental rock, polished prog, ambience & drone.
In August 2014 Into Orbit released their full-length debut album Caverns.