It seems that, without trying, I have become Lady Obscure’s go to guy for instrumental rock and metal. That suits me fine as I am a huge fan of the genre with, however, one (rather large) proviso attached. Whilst I don’t want you, the reader, to feel I am going over the same ground, I feel that, in this genre more than others, musicians and bands must strive to produce something different from the norm as it is too easy to stray into territory where everything can sound the same. Recent releases from The Fierce and the Dead (Spooky Action) and Soap Revelations (IV) have proved my point to a certain extent, where The Fierce and the Dead produced a great album that stood alone and above the norm, Soap Revelations release (whilst being a very good album) was, in parts, too similar to a lot of the other instrumental bands out there. It is, in some ways, treading a fine line, you cannot produce something that is too different as it will have no appeal but, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you have to plough your own furrow, a tough one.
With Our Arms to the Sun is an expressive, instrumental, Progressive band based out of Sedona, Arizona. The music is non commercial and intended to be concentrated on and digested. The live shows are unique. The band was formed as a fun project by Josh Breckenridge (guitars, synth, noise) in his home studio in Arizona. The project started off as a blank canvas to experiment with odd time signatures, synthesizers, noise, etc. Upon writing a handful of songs Josh linked up with his brother Joseph Breckenridge (guitars, synth, programming) to add Bass and other instrumentation. Eventually their good friend Joseph Leary (bass, synth) upon listening to the music, jumped on board to add his instrumentation. This was, essentially, the birth of With Our Arms to the Sun, 3 friends who, in their free time, meet up in recording studios to create long, unformatted and unique instrumental soundscapes.
February 2013 saw the release of their first EP, A Delicate Union of Minds and, we now have their first full length release, The Trilogy.
The Trilogy sees With Our Arms to the Sun sticking true to their original ethos, it is a great musical soundscape painted (metaphorically) on an impressive canvas and, whilst in some parts being reminiscent of Long Distance Calling, has a sound and feel that is unique to the band. Whether it is the crushingly hard and industrial guitar heavy melting pot of the first two tracks Syndicate and The Mountain where you are confronted by an intense wall of sound that is ably backed by some thunderous drumming and impressive keyboards or the underplayed simplicity of Where Silence Dwells with the gentle strumming of the guitar and low key synthesizer paint a subtly hazy picture before a more urgent, fuzzy riff takes the lead, there is a distinctive and individual sound on show. On the more formulaic Deviation the band slip into a style very reminiscent of Long Distance Calling, musical competence very much on show but nothing I haven’t heard before. The atmospheric, moving and just darn beautiful Die for You (Riley’s Song) and Concerto Perdurabo provide proof, if needed, that these 3 guys have an ability to produce something magical and singular, almost orchestral in parts.
After the quiet comes the storm, a thunderous, crunching guitar introduces us to Avalon before taking in a strident, staccato note, a return to the intense feeling of the first two tracks, off key notes and a harsher feel add to the vibe. Whether intentional or not, Cosmonaut has a really laid back and spaced out feel to it. The subtle guitar plays second fiddle to the drums on this track where there is a very small hint of the orient to the song. The whole feel and tempo of the song changes towards the end as it takes on a harder, undulating edge, another fine addition to the album. Eyes Underwater and Fire in a Cave showcase the bands ability to produce an ambient, atmospheric side to their music, the former, a laid back, soothing track that takes you on a metaphorical journey into a peaceful place in your soul and the latter has a more intense, but still ambient feel to it. Walking through Walls could have walked the tightrope of being too formulaic but, the heavy guitar with a somewhat distorted feel does lift this song above the norm. The urgent, strident riff, solid drumming and quality bass are also paramount to giving the song more of a quality edge. A nice laid back section with a cool, effects heavy guitar is a nice touch but, it is that harsh and jarring guitar that is the centre point of this song right till the end. A delicate, serene and yet urgent, piano note is the graceful introduction to final track, Water Beneath Her, another unique musical soundscape produced by With Our Arms to the Sun. A string like quality to the synthesizer adds to the ethereal feeling of the track giving a classical feel to the whole song, a sedate and peaceful way to bring proceedings to a close.
After listening to The Trilogy, I realise what draws me to instrumental music. That ability to take the listener on an enthralling musical journey using instruments alone, when done right, is one to be enjoyed and championed. With Our Arms to the Sun, for 3 guys, produce some amazingly complex and vibrant musical soundscapes and, to this listener, can be considered excellent proponents of the black art of instrumental rock.