Hailing from the great land of Northern Ireland, the band, And So I Watch You from Afar are releasing their fourth album, Heirs on May 4 as the follow up to All Hail Bright Futures released in 2013. The band is known for their stellar instrumental jams and group vocal parts. They have been described as post modern rock meets math rock. The band in reality defies genre classification.
And So I Watch You From Afar has acquired a cult following with their relentless touring schedule. The AIWYFA have done 500 shows world wide and have toured such far flung places as China, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus. They are also a fixture on the festival circuit, with their enduring commitment to the ArcTanGent festival as their biggest platform.
The band is composed of Rory Friers on guitar and main songwriter, Niall Kennedy on guitar, Johnny Adger on bass and Chris Wee on Drums. The approach the band uses to songwriting is not the usual. Friers writes the initial ideas for the songs and the others members then gather and arrange and contribute to the songs in the rehearsal rooms and finish off each song for the release.
This time around the band gathered at the Old Linen Mill in West Belfast to record Heirs. The album represents 6 months of painstaking work. AIWYFA originally had 30 songs that had been generated from Heirs recording sessions. The filtering process was fierce but as Friers states,” We ended up with something all four of us were in loved with, loving every nook and cranny of each song.” “We are invested in every second of sound on the album because every part and nuance had to justify its existence and had to fit on the album.” The band looked to push beyond their comfort zone. Friers stated,” All Hail Bright Futures helped us shed our self consciousness or worry about the reception of an album. “ Heirs builds on that allowing us to experiment and progress.”
The album has a strong emotional underpinning. The band looked to create a very strong feeling on each track. The whole album is a journey from the first note to the last. To understand the album it has to be listened to in one pass. The songs on the album have stellar song configurations. Each track is original and never boring. There is a playful sophistication to their music; best example being Redesigned A Million Times, with it’s off hand wry chorus and mad guitar skills on display. The first track on the album Run Home is meticulously constructed with an exquisite manic flow.
Run Home has a kaleidoscope of sound as the full frontal attack of the guitars pulls you into the music. It is a piquant combo of thrashing guitar and atmospheric etherealness. The song is a great opener to the album.
There is an amazing amount of energy in this album, from songs like These Secret Kings I know with it’s artillery barrage of percussion to Wasps which is reminiscent of Sigur Ros’ sound. It is a fast paced song with industrial sounds and vaulted vocals.
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People Not Sleeping has a Celtic feel and reminds me of early Twilight Sad instrumentation. A Beacon, A Compass an Anchor is a song that combines tribal sounds with the ethereal and produces a scintillating track. The title track Heirs glides across a large mural of sound and is an evocative and moving.
And So I Watch You from Afar has unique and original sound. Their musical skills are laudatory. It is refreshing to see a band commit to the idea of a concept album that is created to hear in one sitting. One minor criticism would be that more vocals would been an added bonus.