With the entire world on edge and in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety, the average Joe will turn to music as a means of catharsis. Some will satiate their anger and disdain with the most aggressive and abrasive sounds they can find. Others will quell the flame inside with sounds of a softer, more graceful nature. The latter criteria is probably best fulfilled by the little genre known as post-rock. With its use of restraint, shimmering instrumentation and buildups to climaxes of arresting, soaring beauty, post-rock is arguably the most qualified candidate for those looking to just “let go”.
This is where Pennsylvania’s Heron and their debut full-length, You Are Here Now, comes in. Their calming, introspective brand of instrumental rock effectively reduces the tumult of the outside world, as well as that of inner strife, to a dull whisper. Thanks in part to its glossy instrumentation, smooth pace and atmospheric fervor, You Are Here Now is a welcomed addition to the post-rock canon.
“Shores” opens up the 54-minute opus with bright, angelic ambient swells that give way to gorgeous, reverberating chord progressions. Soon the percussion sheepishly raises its head and gives a steady heartbeat to the ethereal tune, before establishing an energetic pace that allows for the guitars to dance playfully above. As it reaches its conclusion, the track cycles back and forth between moments of subdued beauty and atmospheric hums, before building into an emotionally-charged climax of towering chords, heart-wrenching leads and layers of shoegaze-esque ambiance. Once the track reaches its pinnacle, the listener will feel like they have been enveloped by a blanket of radiant color and will feel at peace for a brief moment.
You Are Here Now remains fairly stylistically consistent throughout its nearly 60-minute duration. The band faithfully nod to the tension-and-release methods employed by genre frontrunners Explosions in the Sky and This Will Destroy You, though it does become apparent that the band have more of an affinity for ambient and shoegaze textures. The 11-minute centerpiece “Drop”, for example, has all the makings of a grandiose post-rock classic with its slow-burning beauty and explosions of layered, guitar-generated gorgeousness. But as it progresses, the band build massive walls of thick, airy sound that drape over the shimmering composition, losing the listener in its transcendental glory in the process.
One interesting and standout cut on the album is its second track, “Ender”. The song features the dreamlike post-rock exhibitions that dominate the bulk of the record, but are bookended between bluesy, stoner rock-esque grooves that provide some ample head-bobbing entertainment. This surprising track almost comes across as a collaboration between Explosions in the Sky, Earth and Ennio Morricone. Though the album’s sonic consistency works in its favor, it would have been nice to hear more jarring moments such as this.
Although Heron do not do things drastically different from the similar artists that came before them, they get points for embracing more of the genre’s atmospheric aspects, experimenting with tracks like “Ender” and generally pulling off the style with confidence and grace. If You Are Here Now is any indication of what is to come, this Pennsylvanian band will definitely be an act to watch in the future.
Release Date: January 21, 2017
Favorite Tracks: “Shores”, “Ender”, “Drop” and “Before the War”
For Fans Of: Explosions in the Sky, This Will Destroy You and The Appleseed Cast