With the likes of Ride touring once again, it seems that shoegaze is no longer a dirty word, but when Air Formation originally got together back in the year 2000, the music world was not so accepting. The band nonetheless gained a devoted following over ten years, and concluded their career with the well-received ‘Nothing to wish for (nothing to lose)’. It took four years for the band to see the error of their ways and in 2014 Air Formation returned. Picking up where they left off, the band utilised material that they’d already started to develop back in 2010 and the result is the hypnotic grooves of ‘were we ever here’ released, as ever, through the Club AC30 label. Offering up four songs in just over nineteen minutes, it is clear that Air Formation are not interested in airplay, and the songs on offer meander beautifully, lost in a haze of gently distorted guitars and blissed out vocals. It’s not only a stunning return to action from the band but also the perfect introduction to those who missed out the first time round.
The EP opens with ‘I could stay’, a swirling, psychedelic piece that recalls the likes of Ride and Spiritualized with its crystalline melody buried deep under waves of distorted guitar. It’s a beautiful start to the EP and there’s a timeless quality in the way the band juxtapose subtle beauty and huge waves of overdriven guitar, working the latter into shimmering, gossamer fine strands that stream out behind the woozy bass and somnolent percussion. ‘Last resolve’, the EP’s second track, is no less impressive, with the band referencing lush, new order and even pulp as chiming guitars slowly build up momentum under a low, pop-infused melody. It’s a track built around repetition, but as the band slowly build elements into the mix, so the piece becomes increasingly frenetic. A measured piece, ‘on the floor’ returns to a mellow, Spiritualized vibe, the music washing over the listener as strings slowly emerge out of the haze, bringing a touch of sweetness to the already poignant melody. Closing the EP is the uncharacteristically urgent ‘the wasted days’ which is delivered with a speed and vitality that is more typical of the band’s live approach than studio work. It’s an elegant conclusion that drifts into the sun-dappled post rock territory of red sparowes and their ilk, suggesting that a bright future once more lies ahead of Air Formation. It’s a potent, feedback-riddled conclusion that the band deliver, and, for me at least, it is one of those edge-of-the-seat musical moments that sends shivers down the spine as ever louder bursts of guitar are added to the mix.
Best played at ferocious volume, Air Formation’s music is built up of many layers, all of which take time and patience to reveal. It’s worth the effort, however, and ‘were we ever here’ is one of those EP’s that you’ll not only play regularly, but which you’ll also be keen to drag people over to listen to as well. The sort of release that you’d treasure on limited 12” vinyl (although this, sadly, seems to have sold out for the time being), ‘Were we ever here’ is wonderfully timeless music that is the perfect fuel for the imagination.