Denmark - Full Moon 140 - 02/21/08
The Seven Mile Journey
The Metamorphosis Project
Even though I've been casually writing music reviews for the last five years or so, it's rare to witness the evolution of lesser known bands. With the trials of everyday life demanding the attention of even the most committed musician, I don't think I've ever received a second album by the same artist for review.
Back in 2006 I deemed The Seven Mile Journey a band of "considerable promise" on the basis of The Journey Studies. While flawed, the album demonstrated a degree of craftsmanship in the creation of engaging rock instrumentals. So, it was with considerable interest that I received The Metamorphosis Project.
The album begins with one of those loops that I could happily listen to for ages - what sounds like a backwards tremolo guitar. And who doesn't love a backwards tremolo guitar once in a while? "Theme for the Elthenbury Massacre" (how jolly) sets the scene in dramatic fashion, with the loop gradually shadowed by droning guitars, a lonely piano, yet more droning guitars... and that's about it really. The sense of drama is pretty impressive, and as a scene-setter it's rather evocative for its five-minute running time. So far, so Godspeed. Well, at least there's no fucking samples of lonely people talking about how shit life is.
The following "The Catharsis Session" takes the Godspeed aesthetic to an almost uncanny extreme. I couldn't be arsed traipsing back over the exhausting Godspeed catalogue to tell you exactly which part of which epic of theirs "The Catharsis Session" apes, but the sound of guitars being played by metallic implements is unmistakeable, evoking barren landscapes, gas chambers, etc. Boring, boring. The slow ride cymbal is almost laughably leaden, and the wait for some kind of payoff is excruciating.
Thankfully, with the excellent "Identity Journals (anonymous)", The Seven Mile Journey stop trying to interminably set the scene and start telling a proper story. For 15 minutes. Good stuff, and rather stately and stirring too. Nothing too original, but it takes some skill to make a 15-minute song engaging from
start to finish.
And then they do it again! "January 4th - the Hypothesis Hours" carries the sense of dramatic narrative established by "Identity Journals" and takes you somewhere else for another nine minutes. Admittedly that place is like a flaming battlefield, punctuated by noble pauses to glimpse the charred photographs
of loved ones, but I found it all pretty compelling.
Sadly, with "A Sanctuary for Lugubrious Tracy" (what the fuck - oh, they're Danish...) we're back in the land of the pedestrian, with the kind of doomy piano ballad that Mogwai often throw into their albums to lull the listener into a false sense of suicidial despair.
But wait! The Seven Mile Journey grasp some kind of victory from the jaws of defeat with the closing epic "Purification - The Journey Transciptions", which takes their ratio of boring to stirring minutes of music to 13:44. Now that's not bad!
If I'm still reviewing music in a couple of years, I'll be waiting for a 45-minute album by The Seven Mile Journey that's compelling all the way through. Get to work boys!
Copyright © 2008 Tim Clarke