The Wilderness is the seventh studio album from the Austin quartet, Explosions in the Sky. It’s not often that one sees an instrumental band garner so much attention as this band has since the release of their album on the first of April. Since then, there have been comparisons to Pink Floyd floating around. With an adept ear for detail and timing, Explosions in the Sky released a rare project in The Wilderness that captures and engages the listener through an odyssey of mood in such a way that any vocals could potentially devalue the tracks.
The album opens quietly with an ambient pulse that concentrates slowly into a thumping clatter with some mountainous builds in the title track, “Wilderness.” “The Ecstatics” follows suit with a calm climb into a grand bridge while pushing the tempo of the previous track into the early jangle of a hollow guitar in “Tangle Formation.” As the third track, it leads into a loud beat that carries through to “Logic of a Dream;” a six-and-a-half minute journey of ascension. Lay back and just take the ride through a sudden and violent lift in volume and tempo that, after a few minutes of tribal bumping, throws you into a gentle, heavenly sway of happy drums and head-nodding chords.
“Disintegration Anxiety” is wild. It begins with synth mimicking the progression of a classical tune and then grows into a Tycho-gone-industrial sound that lays each and every beat at just the right time. “Losing the Light” is a bit dull in comparison to the rest of the album as it really holds place as a transition track. It serves as the six-minute song that holds as a buzzing transition into “Infinite Orbit” which progresses loudly with a constant reverse amen-break beat that glitches itself through the pulling guitar. “Colors in Space” is smooth and starts with a chill beat that rambles on through Cocteau Twins-like bridges and finally summits to a noisy and static-filled crescendo. “Landing Cliffs” is a pretty end to the album that puts the drums to rest for a good half of the song while the ambience evolves, rebuilding after the commotion of the previous track.
It takes a lot as an instrumental band to stand above the line of recognition as Explosions in the Sky is doing. This is apparent as every bit of The Wilderness seems carefully worked and reworked—layered upon with sound until it culminates in what is ultimately a solid and attention-grabbing album. Earlier in this review, it was mentioned that the addition of vocals would jeopardize the quality of these songs, and that really holds true. It becomes hard to imagine that any band could cover so many sonic bases as Explosions in the Sky have. Additionally, there is such a stand-alone quality to every one of these songs that allows them to flow together well in any randomized fashion.
Recommended If You Like: Tycho, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, This Will Destroy You, Radiohead (MAYBE)
Recommended Tracks: 4(Logic of a Dream), 5(Disintegration Anxiety), 9(Landing Cliffs)