Souvenirs Young America - An Ocean Without Water
Crucial Blast
Instrumental Post-Rock
6 songs (40'12")
Release year: 2007
Reviewed by Alex

On a label with a decidedly metal name (but the one that promulgates all kinds of extreme sounds) a young trio from Richmond with a decidedly non-metal moniker delivers a non-metal record of surprising depth. With An Ocean Without Water Souvenir’s Young America has created a reviewer’s paradise (or hell, depending on how you look at it), as people will be coming up with countless images and comparisons in their individual minds.

An instrumental record throughout, An Ocean Without Water indeed deserves a “cinematic rock” label going through a shimmering kaleidoscope of sonic pictures. Rolling and ebbing shamanistic beat opens the album on Mars Ascendent and closes it on Coragyps Atratus (Ego Te Absolvo) bringing out the mysterious ritualistic atmosphere. Blood Alone Does Not a Father Make is pregnant with anticipation of something foreboding, its percussion windchimes caught hanging on the porch of a house in a desolate prairie. Dark Was the Night, Cold Was the Ground brings out the depth and underwater immersion with all of its distortion. On the other hand, The Sheltering Sky is pure heaven and tenderness to soothe fraying nerves, yet a very non-complacent track, growing bigger with its booming bass lines, reaching the pinnacle at the cathedral spires height somewhere. Most of the tracks are slow to mid-pace, Invocation in the Caldera is a downright explosion by Souvenir’s Young America standards, its bouncy Wild West rhythms contributing immensely from the tambourine presence. Another outstanding find is the use of harmonica on Mars Ascendent, Blood Alone Does Not a Father Make and Invocation in the Caldera. Noah Saval adds a feeling of pang and pain to music very much longing in the first place.

No knock on our European compatriots, but it does feel that to write Souvenir’s Young America compositions one has to experience vastness of an almost continent-size country. China and Russia excluded, it makes it very fitting that it would be the US band putting out all of this observational freeform epic art. Yet at the same time, albeit shapeless on the surface, An Ocean Without Water pieces of music do not drag, and almost invariably reach their desired destination. With its soothing quality this was a great soundtrack for me working outdoors on a chilly fall day. Oh, and to fully appreciate the musicianship and completely immerse yourself in the atmosphere, headphones are strongly recommended.

Neurosis and Isis could be very general and popular reference points, but the record lacks the angst of the aforementioned two. In my opinion, this is much closer to The Giant Squid because of the aquatic themes and Across Tundras in terms of the soundscapes painted. An Ocean Without Water is as enjoyable as it is unexpected.

Killing Songs :
The Sheltering Sky, Invocation in the Caldera
Alex quoted 75 / 100
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