La Verite – Elephant

March 8th, 2010 by Eric Loose

No matter how extensively I listen to purely instrumental music, I don’t think I’ll ever stop being surprised at how resonating an effect wordless music has on me. I’ve always been a sucker for lyrics. They often make matters simple, providing a context for me to spill my reactions and feelings. To say that instrumental music provides a little more freedom would be an understatement. Elephant is the proof. Upon constructing a musical soundscape both devoid of and teeming with life and energy at disparate points, La Verite have proven themselves to be surprising masters of their domain, providing the first not-so-subtle post-rock behemoth of 2010.

On paper it would seem that Elephant would be severely lacking any form of cohesiveness. Clocking in at 4 songs, the final lasting longer than 20 minutes and the rest 8 or so, La Verite have allocated varying emotions and sensations to each. Take the first track, “Your Eyes Are The Sun,” for instance. As post-rock cliche as the title may be, the song provides a bit of irony in my mind because of the juxtaposition of this triteness and the song’s supply of fresh liveliness to a sometimes-stale aesthetic. Following the build-up/climax routine that’s been all but driven into the ground, “Your Eyes Are The Sun” provides fresh carbonation to the flat soda-like staleness of some post-rock. La Verite achieves this through a quickly-implemented “wall of sound” device. The texture on “Your Eyes Are The Sun,” well, Elephant for that matter, is spot-on in its loud yet elegant dynamism. The reverb is just uncomfortable enough to keep you on edge. One of Elephant’s greatest attributes, aside from the endearingly rough consistency, is La Verite’s ability to sense when to pack things up and keep moving. They structure the songs in nomad-fashion, never staying in the same place too long as to wear it out.

“What We All Have In Common” follows in relatively similar fashion, deviating only to provide a few more mellow moments than were available on the opener. The first two songs can be seen as a sort of branch. They certainly take some hints from the trunks of Explosions in the Sky or Mono, but through a little innovation manage to differentiate themselves. It’s in the latter half of Elephant that La Verite prove they are more than just branches fallen off the EITS-tree. “A Shared Silence” provides indication of what’s to come, with a simplistic piano-rock number. With minimal instrumentation, it now becomes a bit more apparent what La Verite were talking about when they described Elephant as a composition consisting of both post-rock and ambient pieces. It isn’t until the final track, however, that the more ambient side is fully exposed.

“Pachyderm,” simply put, is the reason that Elephant is so successful. It spans both the conventional post-rock ideas and the more ambient textures to envelope the album with a beautiful closing statement. As with the album, “Pachyderm” doesn’t hinge on any simple emotion or idea that narrows the scope of La Verite’s aims. Rather, it acts as a blank slate, albeit a beautiful one, for the listener to project feelings upon. Spanning the entire 20 minutes is a fluid and natural feel, making it particularly easy listening as far as gargantuan songs go. While many will consider the first half of the song dead space due to its more minimalist and ambient atmosphere, I believe it fits in perfectly. It acts like a build-up to the post-rock grandeur to follow.

As previously stated, it’s difficult to characterize Elephant with one overwhelming sensation, yet I can’t help but feel this works in La Verite’s favor. Instead, La Verite manages to span a multitude of impression, both novel and conventional, in their quest to become a stand-out post-rock outfit. While they don’t succeed with flying colors (Elephant is definitely lacking in length, a few more songs would have been beneficial), La Verite create a beautiful album nonetheless. Elephant resonates me more than I expected it to, even more than I expected any newfound post-rock to. On top of that, I would be sincerely surprised if Elephant doesn’t resonate just as strongly with me at the end of the year when I’m left looking for the best post-rock of the 2010.

Overall Grade: 4/5

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