Valley of the Giants

Valley of the Giants

Valley of the Giants

Arts & Crafts

Valley of the Giants is the Canadian post-rock collective’s first full on attempt at an Ennio Morricone spaghetti western score. Drawing inspiration from a viewing of the robot cowboy disaster film Westworld, the band •- comprised of members of GY!BE, Do Make Say Think, Broken Social Scene, Shalabi Effect and Strawberry — crafts an enjoyable update of the conventional “western” sound. Sure it’s artistic license to add synthesizers and walls of distortion to the mix, but it’s not like Morricone’s trademark hammer dulcimer was a historically common saddlebag item either. That said, the band is brilliant when they add the slightest modern touches to the mixture. The robotic whistle on “Beyond the Valley,” the weaving of Eastern instrumentation and rhythms in with the free form flamenco of “Cantara Sin Guitara” and the sunrise jaunt of “Bala Bay Inn” are the best examples of this. When the band starts to fall back on the rote post-rock wall of guitar and wash of cymbals, things begin to get marginalized. Meaning: I’ve heard better elsewhere.

Perhaps the oddest inclusion is the aptly named “Whaling Tale.” A spoken word piece set over layers of soft electronics, it tells a story of sailors in the arctic trying unsuccessfully to rescue a helpless penguin from ravenous killer whales. It’s a distressing, affecting song but completely out of place and detracts from the album’s themes and motifs. Sailors + water only equals cowboys + desert metaphorically, and that’s a little too far for the band to reach. This sort of lack of focus goes to show that while a Morricone-ian tribute album has been a long time coming from these musicians, they have a wider array of influences from which they’d like to draw. Hopefully, if this side project gets a second wind the band will decide to forget the middle ground and either opt for a clearer, more precise vision or a greater expanse in their sound.

Arts & Crafts: http://www.arts-crafts.ca/

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