With nods to Mogwai, Pink Floyd and Isis, Tides from Nebula are an aptly named post-rock group who explore huge instrumental soundscapes which prove to be both alien and lush. Released on the renowned Polish label Mystic Productions, ‘Earthshine’ is the perfect post-night-out album in that it is the aural equivalent of lying, alone on an inflatable dingy in the midst of a vast, tranquil ocean. As the music ebbs and flows around you, sometimes gently rippling over you entirely it is easy to become lost in its simple beauty and Tides… achieve their apparent aim of dragging you away from the dreary everyday world and transporting you to somewhere altogether more spectacular.
The album opens with the mellow, slow-building beauty of ‘these days, glory days’ which is simple yet stunning and filled with aching melody that draws you ever deeper into the track as it progresses. Tribal drums which recall the more psychedelic moments of neurosis slowly build before the band layer more and more guitars over the top of one another to create a raging tsunami of glorious sound. It’s an epic sound that the band aim for, here and throughout the album, and thanks to the multitude of ideas, the band’s skill both at building huge crescendos and restraint, they succeed and the opening track’s eight minute dreamscape is the perfect introduction to the band. ‘The fall of leviathan’ continues in a softer vein, recalling Sigur Ros minus the vocals and the guitars, awash with reverb, lap gently at your feet while the moon rises high in the background. It’s a scintillating piece and it helps to cement the feel that the album is actually one continuous piece of music that develops and withdraws over its eight tracks but which has a distinct flow that requires careful attention from start to finish. When the heavier sounds do finally kick in, after about six minutes it is with a slow burning fury that Mogwai harnessed so well on ‘…fear Satan’ and you can imagine that in a live performance the snarling riffs would pull you entirely under with their weighty force.
Having dazzled you with the incendiary guitars of ‘the fall of leviathan’, the band adopt a somewhat mercurial shift in sound and focus and unleash a piano which chimes softly in the darkness for the brief duration of ‘waiting for the world to turn back’ and which acts as a segue to the isolated, introverted ‘caravans’ which is surely the album’s brilliant centrepiece. ‘White gardens’ has the unenviable task of following its mammoth predecessor but it does so by opting for a punishing bass sound on the mid-section which, at high volumes, is liable to instigate an attack of the bends. Heavier and darker than the previous track, the guitars skitter across the dark surface of the rhythm section who seem hell-bent on making ears bleed with cymbals in particular taking a serious beating… All of which stops abruptly for the celestial wonder of ‘Hypothermia’ which brings to mind frozen tundra and huge open expanses of sky revealing glistening stars somewhere in the frozen wastelands of the North. It’s icy, cold and utterly absorbing and like those epic landscapes it’s hard not to have your breath taken away although like ‘waiting for the world to turn back’ it is more of a segue than anything, giving way to the throbbing bliss of ‘Siberia’ which has a bobbing and weaving bass line backing up the guitars, allowing for an energetic fell without the screaming violence of heavily distorted guitars damaging the fragile melody. Final track ‘cemetery of frozen ships’ rounds things out with the song emerging from a haze of gentle feedback and noise to become the most fragile of acoustic laments leaving the listener abandoned and alone at the heart of a huge abandoned space filled only with the ghosts of achievement and the stately grandeur of wooden ships coated in frost and ice and in varying stages of decay.
Over the course of this review I have chosen a more imaginative descriptive route than I might normally do because the music of Tides from nebula is all about the imagination. Like most instrumental rock bands, the music – stripped of lyrics – cries out for you to lend your own interpretation and to lie back, eyes closed with the music washing over you is the best way to experience this release. It is not, perhaps, groundbreakingly original – but then little in the post rock world is these days, but Tides from Nebula create music which feeds the soul – it is stunning, often beautiful and extraordinarily well played and produced. True, it won’t satisfy the adrenalin junkie seeking the next heavy rock fix – the music here is more cerebral and intense than that – but for those of you looking for a piece of music that shimmers with feeling and beauty then this is a spectacular release well worth exploring.