apolar. - the design.
Record Label: Posters On Walls Records
Release Date: September 27, 2011
"Only a Sith deals in absolutes."
- Ewan McGregor as Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars: Episode III Revenge Of The Sith
Through all their wooden dialogue, racist caricatures, and complete bulldozing over a beloved franchise, at least the Star Wars prequels taught us that since the nomenclature in post-rock songwriting is so dramatic and hyperbolic, that a good portion of the artists performing in the genre are obviously dark minions sent from a galaxy far, far away. Here I was, thinking that bands like apolar. were being unnecessarily distracting with ridiculously placed punctuation and song titles that involve words like "machines," "winter," and "wolves," when in fact they're just badass force-users here on earth, spreading their diatribe through modern post-rock song titles--I cannot properly express the relief I felt in discovering this.
The truth is that it can be difficult to be a distinct face in instrumental music, especially when dealing with aural territory that places you near the likes of Caspian, This Will Destroy You, and If These Trees Could Talk. With most of the better known bands wearing out all the different ways delayed chords can be arranged in a given songs, most of apolar.'s material feels like known quantity. There's a noticeable addition of a piano throughout the design., but most of the key work feels like an afterthought laid atop familiar work; the song "Machines" trudges with heavy guitar play, only to be haphazardly dipped in a few quick key strokes and quickly drowned out in distortion once again.
Thankfully, the design. isn't just a rambunctious, derivative piece playing off the bigger names of loud post-rock groups; songs like the brief, distant echoes of "winter's stare." and the ending acoustics of "the city streets are flooded again." give a quiet edge to the design. It's an edge that doesn't necessarily balance out the familiar songwriting, but does well enough in establishing a sense of clear tension throughout every composition. These songs don't jump out as new, dazzling pieces of instrumental content; rather, they feel bleak, overtly reverent, and just relevant enough to warrant a recommendation.
Maybe the nomenclature of post-rock songs, the painfully dark names revolving around light and dark, or heaven and hell, isn't just attributed to the genre due to the clear vile, Sith-infested nature of the artists behind it. There's a certain amount of pretense that's handed to listeners through the heady material; there's some unspoken guarantee of cinematic quality, some promise of dramatic backdrop that prepares the listener with often the inappropriate level of expectation for how truly epic any given post-rock opus can potentially be.
The truth is that I'd much prefer thinking of the members of apolar. as possessing the means to shoot lightning from their fingertips and deal only with the black and white, but the more likely answer here is a band that has given potential listeners a free serving of a record that smacks of its influences. Listeners should be given a reason to look past the bigger names and focus on the smaller artists of a genre--a polar. hasn't done that here, but they've given listeners a reasonable price point of free to start off from. It's hard to argue with the price, even if it's a bit difficult to consider the content worth remembering after a listen or two.