“We, Burning Giraffes” – ‘(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)

The second album in a trio of reviews I said I would post follows as is: “We, Burning Giraffes”, takes an instrumental route rather than a lyrical one. From Brooklyn-based band (The) Slowest Runner (In All The World), this perhaps resembles ‘Mogwai’ in a rawer sense than Tehachapi – which I delivered a few weeks back. The execution of their instrumental post-baroque style is crisp and memorable, and while most instrumental artists tend to have their tracks bleed far too easily into one another, “We, Burning Giraffes” compartmentalises its tracks instead in long orchestral overtures and short bursts of ephemera – a well-balanced combination.

While I admit the flu knocked me about last week, it gave me the chance to explore “We, Burning Giraffes” following the aftermath of “(100)”. While I cannot understand why I am drawn to making parallels between these two bands, I suppose I was inspired by a third album – yet to be reviewed – when listening. These two [soon to be three] separate bands feel interconnected in some way. And, well – perhaps that’s just me?

"We, Burning Giraffes" - '(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)'

"We, Burning Giraffes" - '(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)'

Post-baroque sees its first appearance on Highly Evolved, and I feel compelled to give a rudimentary definition of the genre. The original draft of this review had me rambling on about the irony of the genre’s name itself. The baroque-period of music kind-a ended in the early 18th century – in my attempt to trivialise it with a somewhat “technicality”, anything, really, after that early 18th century could be considered post-baroque. Or at least, as my understanding would have it…

Anyhow. If one can imagine the amalgamation of classical instrumentation with electrical instrumentation – for all intents and purposes, ‘Mogwai’ with an orchestra – then listeners will have their first comparison to go on [it is also wise to take into account that instances of voice – i.e. yelling/screaming/ambience, or appropriated conversations/dialogue, are brief and transitory]. Other like-genres include neo-classical. Even some elements of post-rock feature the characteristics akin to post-baroque.

Give a man with a guitar, a violin

And you’ve got yourself some post-rock.

But hand him both a cello and a violin instead,

And it could at least be said,

That you’ve got yourself some post-baroque

Other bands to follow-up on would be the likes of Bullets In Madison [more post-rock in vibe, though, but similar in string-instrumentation], and perhaps even ‘Maybeshewill’ [particularly their debut, “Not For Want Of Trying” – the guitar solos are very similar, buy heavier in nature].

The album totals around an hour, and feels shorter than it actually is. There is a real chop-and-change between track-lengths, with the opening track “Zoë Machete Control” finishing at the 13-minute mark, and the following, “[Oscillation] I – (The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)” a couple of seconds under a minute, after. There consist of three real ephemeral tracks – the one previously mentioned, “Aembers/Guggenheim” [although it is six-minutes, tracks average around the ten-minute mark] and the second incarnation of “[Oscillation]…”. Seven tracks in all, again, think ‘Mogwai’, but more specifically, “The Hawk Is Howling”, for a good length-comparison.

And the music itself? Brilliant, utterly amazing – in my honest opinion. Juxtaposition between loud and soft, contrast to be found not just in amplitude, but in the collaboration of acoustic [orchestral] instrumentation and electric guitar – it’s always a phenomenal combination when pulled off successfully. The dominating sombreness of violin completely displaces the mood set by electric guitar, and the shifts between acoustic-orchestral and electric are smooth, progressive, gradual. Nothing feels chunky, and despite compartmentalisation, there is good flow and nothing really sticks out as an ear-sore. If anything, the piano featured on the introduction could use a little more limelight and the first “[Oscillation]” could have simply been tagged to the front of the track “We, Burning Giraffes”

Reiterating, “Zoë Machete Control” opens for “We, Burning Giraffes”. It’s been a while since I raved on about a good introductory track, and their importance in shaping an opinion around a good album. Too much these days, are we cannibalising albums in favour of MP3-player playlists, ITunes favourites, or the misbegotten Windows Media Player five-star rating system. Introductions are an integral feature to an album – no matter how good the finale is, it’s always worth the wait. Nobody reads the end of a book first. “Zoë Machete Control” begins as a delicate introduction to “We, Burning Giraffes” slowly but surely building into an action-packed, electrical/acoustical/orchestral crescendo full of exploding-bits and escalation. The staccato at 9:21 merely heightens this exciting drama. And the yelling voices.

“Aembers/Guggenheim” started off as my initial favourite off the album [I really like all of it, now]. It felt more like a ‘Mogwai’ song than any other, and I was reminded of my favourite track off “The Hawk Is Howling”, “Kings Meadow”. It sort of follows this dark, again sombre, interrupted-waltz. The opening duet between electric-guitar and violin is compounded by the ethereal ‘Sigur Rós’ reminiscent voice moaning in the background. Then it just kind of meanders and meanders, like a twisted fairytale, and ends…

By the second incarnation of “[Oscillations]…”, the music resembles instrumental noise, rather than anything post-rockA Young Peoples Guide To in essence, but not in length. And the final track, “She Died In A Fit Of Apoplexy”, begins with an uninterpretable speech tied back with a violin. And at fifteen minutes, a very long goodbye…

Reviewer’s Pick: “Zoë Machete Control”

Stand-out Tracks: All

Rating: 4.8/5

Until when,

The Enantiomorphic God

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~ by enantiomorphicgod on August 18, 2010.

2 Responses to ““We, Burning Giraffes” – ‘(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)”

  1. […] doesn’t know what it’s looking for. What ‘Neon Canyon’ has to do with ‘Tehachapi’, ‘(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)’, [maybe even ‘Klaxons’?], I can only guess at. The voice inside my head [not to be confused […]

  2. […] the next, so you’re bound to hear some semblance with a prior context. If still unsure, check out “(The) Slowest Runner (In All The World)” or even “Bricoleur”: that should sharpen those […]

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