‘Through The Air, Across The Ocean’
Prog-doom is a curiously paradoxical little sub-genre, often bringing a sense of fun and endless possibilities to a type of music that usually focuses on absolute misery, death and loss. A perfect example: Canadian band MVMNTS include a bit of rap on one of the songs on their first full-length album. We’re not exactly talking “feat. Snoop Dogg” here, and it doesn’t last very long, but there it is, boldly challenging you to disapprove.
If you’re still reading, well done to you. And it’s worth sticking around, because once you’ve gotten over your confusion, MVMNTS (Movements) deliver some powerful and memorable moments. There are violins everywhere, clapping, samples, spacey synths, and the whole ensemble comes across like a mixture of Jethro Tull and Isis, with bits of desert, bits of stoner, bits of drone. The guitars are not particularly heavy, the music is more subtle than intense, building to create a dizzying, ever-changing mantra.
MVMNTS, who hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, certainly add a few new twists to heavy music and come up with lots of inventive ideas and experimentation. At times, they enter a kind of droning hypnosis, swaying gently towards another dimension, such as on the explorative, thoughtful ‘Sundome Undone’. On this leviathan of a track, languid vocal harmonies and delicate violin parts have the effect of slowing down your heart-rate to the point where you might actually die. That said, its weird finale should resuscitate you just in time to catch the end of the album.
Elsewhere, the atmosphere can be a little colorless, particularly when the band focuses heavily on extensive spoken-word samples. The track ‘The Future Is Written In The Skulls Of Our Cities’, for example, briefly features the skills of local hip-hop artist Hermitofthewoods and – for 30 seconds or so – a killer NWOBHM riff, but otherwise involves quite a lot of waiting around. MVMNTS are clearly a creative bunch, but sometimes their quirky ideas are tackled one at a time rather than being developed into one overwhelming entity, meaning that the songs rarely turn out to be quite as spectacular as they promise.
Depending on a listener’s preferences, there may well be too much prog and not enough doom on ‘Through The Air, Across The Ocean’, and the garish artwork might be slightly off-putting. But it’s an interesting and challenging debut from a musically brave band looking to do things their own way.