As The Spirit Wanes As The Spirit Wanes


Codes In The Clouds Codes In The CloudsAs The Spirit Wanes

6.8 / 10


Codes In The Clouds or, “I’ve already seen that film and I know how it ends.” Of the entire generation of referents that followed the consolidation of the GY!BE / Mogwai sound in the mid-90’s, as far as I see it, only two groups have managed to impose their discourse and ideas in an atmosphere of repetition, photocopies, and maximum predictability that consumed and burned up everything: the Japanese group Mono and the Americans, Explosions In The Sky. The former, thanks to a sixth sense of composition and creativity that has led them to mature, evolve, and rethink their formula, mainly with the aid of the neoclassical influence, as their marvellous “Hymn to the Immortal World” showed (not coincidentally, their best recording so far); the latter, thanks to betting in crescendo on a very basic equation that the group has managed to keep lively and fresh through the perfection of all of its mechanisms. To all of this, we must remember an important piece of luck that came along: their constant presence as the soundtrack to “Friday Night Lights” has helped to solidify the emotional and evocative stamp of their songs, and nowadays it is impossible to imagine the series without the band’s sad, spiralling guitars.

Along the way, competent, powerful, valuable groups have fallen by the wayside, unable to manage the difficult task of standing out and lasting on such a limited, self-excluding micro-scene as that of instrumental post-rock. And in this situation we find Codes In The Clouds, a young band, barely four years old, with two albums covering this genre for the ever-considerate and attentive label Erased Tapes. Right off the bat, then, the wind isn’t blowing in the band’s favour: they started their career during a period when this style is falling into disuse, and when its main idols and saviours are following other aesthetic and expressive routes—without looking any further, the advance from Mogwai’s new album augurs very interesting surprises. This group, on the other hand, started off their career with an album, “Paper Canyon”, that hid few surprises, but which did have a full compendium of commonplaces and resources that have already been assimilated into the scene, limiting themselves to doing what is expected of any clone group that doesn’t aspire to much.

The good news about “As the Spirit Wanes” doesn’t have as much to do with the role that the band can play within this stylistic framework as much as with the qualitative, instrumental, and emotional leap that they take with respect to their previous debut album. It is interesting to watch the growth of a group like Codes In The Clouds in just one title, and in the year and a half between one recording and the other there are already significant, noticeable differences, explicit and worthy, in the way that they prepare, set out, and give life to the compositions. It is as if the creators had completely abandoned those sparks of amateurism that arose in their coming out, to begin to concentrate seriously, fully aware, on the creation of a discourse that seeks to gain personality, integrity, and autonomy. They still come up a little short, as it is impossible not to think of Mogwai, The Album Leaf, Mono, Explosions In The Sky or the early Early Day Miners when we listen to their melodies, their guitars and the way they alternate the rise and fall in tension, and yet the baggage isn’t even enough to rival the best “copycats” of the class on equal terms.

In any case, and this is what we keep for the final balance, “As the Spirit Wanes” transmits good feelings and positive vibrations regarding the authors’ possibilities in terms of growth and expansion. They are young, they have a long way ahead of them, and in some passages of the album we can already catch a glimpse of their interest in adding arrangements, unorthodox instrumentation, and unscripted ideas in order to give greater presence and impact to a basic proposal that dispenses with originality, freshness, and breaking new ground in favour of an unarguable cinematic charge and a more-than-advantageous visual and melancholy sense of melody. Of the groups of new promising artists arising in the post-rock arena, everything seems to indicate that Clouds In The Clouds are headed in the right direction to earn themselves a privileged spot on the scene.

Tim Ryback

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Codes In The Clouds - Look Back, Look Up{youtube width="100%" height="25"}FKFSIWtou5U{/youtube}

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