Caspian - Waking Season
Record Label: Triple Crown Records
Release Date: September 25, 2012
I've heard people use the term faux-intellectualism before - it has its own urban dictionary article - and I sort of trace everything wrong with the mid-to-upper reaches of society to it. That people can be fake smart does not make any sense, and I feel this way even after watching the HBO documentary Game Change. Sarah Palin was not faux-intellectual, she was (allegedly) an actress, memorizing lines written by smart people that sound smart so that the very few smart people who vote in elections can sleep better at night. Or whatever. It's dumb. It's all dumb. Perhaps the dumbest part of the term faux-intellectualism is that it calls itself that, and not just "lying." The point I'm not making is that post-rock, another dumb term, is often lumped into this faux-intellectual category by people who either don't get it or don't care enough to get it. The stuff of weed smoking, mildly-misunderstood frat dudes looking for a girl in glasses because that might mean she's less likely to have Herpes. Post-Rock, due to many more tangible factors than that weird one, is a genre that's always had a hill to climb.
Which is sad, really. Bands like Caspian came into being after the mere worshiping of idols like Godspeed and Sigur Ros and the only other two post-rock bands you know stopped being enough. Because even after such negativity, post-rock is a genre that turns fans into creators. It breaks down what is often the biggest barrier to music - dealing with a fucking singer - and allows groups of friends to take meandering garage sessions to the supreme next level. Caspian say stuff without saying stuff, sure, ok. But really what they do is form entire worlds of feedback and build-up and synthesizer wizardry and drama. This isn't fucking study music or bedtime lullabies - Waking Season is the most dynamic and affecting record of this year and probably last year (too lazy to look).
Walking hurriedly away from the above diatribe that should have been written in 2007, songs like opener "Waking Season" and it's abruptly different, fuzzy and electronically claustrophobic follow-up "Procellous" are supremely strong get-lost tunes. As in, "Get lost you asshole, I'm having a moment." Songs like this remind me why following this band always felt like a sort of magnificent journey - something Tolkien would have listened to if he had his septum pierced (great joke). My favorite song "Halls of the Summer" takes a trip from acoustic to electro to almost Coldplay-levels of brit-rock uplift. Rather than taking all 7 minutes to play with our emotions, Caspian unleash completely unique stanzas 3 or 4 times within songs. Long songs lose some of their time-suck intimidation when they have enough content to blow our minds multiple times.
Even slower, stone-ier tracks like "Long The Desert Mile" or the feedback, distortion-drenched "High Lonesome" manage to stay in our face with such force that we can't help but keep at it. I'll compare them to some sort of eclipse, and it's ok if you call that stupid. Anywhere you go on this album, you just feel majestic. Cathedral-sized songs, heavy-handed and hypnotic drums and movements where you forget where you are, if even just for a second, are what characterize Waking Season. Yes, the climaxes and apexes and other College Board words for BIG FUCKING MOMENT are still amazing, as we expect. But Caspian have sort of wowed me by creating sounds that are certainly heavily produced, but don't feel that way. You know all those terrible music videos where the band plays a song in the middle of some beautiful forest? And you're like, get out of here with this "organic emotionalism" crap?! Well screw that, because that's how all of Waking Season feels/sounds. The whole thing is open meets confined, urban meets natural. Look, let's just all agree that my blabbering and misplaced anger at a group of people who probably don't exist anymore shouldn't stop any of us from experiencing an album that makes me wish I could do a 180 and just be completely positive for once. That I could live in the beautiful vacuum in which this album was created. Or that we could all just shut down and tune in.
Recommended If You Like: Russian Circles, Metavari, Gifts From Enola