Valley of the Giants 
Valley of the Giants
/arts & crafts; 2004/



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First the names : Broken Social Scene, Do Make Say Think, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Silver Mount Zion and a couple of more. Even I know these bands, often uttered in the microcosmic indie underground music world I am a member of on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays; the rest of the week being devoted to Slipknot, Avril Lavigne, REM, Pearl Jam and many others. So I guess that the mentioning of these bands arouses the curiosity of some of you dear readers. So, members of these post-rock bands gathered in a studio and after only one rehearsal session, recorded Valley of the Giants. If you’re looking for concepts, here is the one for this record: one of the guys brought a copy of "Westworld," a psycho desert western featuring Yul Brynner as a murderous robotic cowboy. Their music would be a soundtrack for this film, more or less. The film had already been inspiring for Stephen Malkmus and the song "Jojo’s Jacket" on his first album, but here it’s a total different style. I guess it must be called post rock, but for once I am not really pleased with the name. I suppose there is a term that is more precise for this, considering the fact that the songs have been recorded live, a sentiment of touching intensity emanates from them. I say that because I have listened to Mogwai or Godspeed & co and in opposition their music is cold for me.

Valley of the Giants has maybe proven me wrong about my dislike of instrumental music, up to a certain point that is length. 8 tracks 65 minutes, ok, I have seen worse but still. But here I found a trick not to question the length of the songs all the time: I hide the digital counter of my cd player and try to sit back or do something inactive like watching pervert high school girls walking by my window or work for my exams. And then gradually.. well it works. Not considering the fact that most of the tracks are built upon the same structure of crescendos and leitmotivs, the ambiance of the record is stunning and touching, never unbearable. The only song with a singer is of course my favorite, “Westworld”. The she singer delivers her litany over a hovering music which constantly hesitates between country, pop and post rock. The flamenco guitar on “Cantara sin Guitara” is an introduction to a desolate area with a violin playing oriental moods and some mechanical noises. The whole thing makes me of a slowdown instrumental Tom Waits song. Songs like “Beyond the valley” and “Bala Bay Inn “ are pitifully entrapped into the post rock scheme: ambiance, crescendo, blow up. Well not the best ones, even if guitars are sometimes ingenuously replaced by violins. The worn out narrator on “Whaling Tale” tells a story about pilgrims, gun shooting and holding on.

I wonder how many times I have used the word “ambiance” this month.

Well, Valley of the Giants is not for beginners in a transe but this record may be able to change your mind about instrumental music, like it did on me.


And remember: Save a horse, ride a cowboy!


-Angus Anderson

/apr 1st 2004/