Aerogramme's Seclusion leaves me, as a reviewer, in a very tough spot.
Few albums have such a polarizing affect from song to song, minute to minute, as this one does. Almost instantaneously it seems could I go from praising part of this as genius, to labeling it a pile of crap. I suppose that's always a danger in releasing as varied an album as this, but this case seems worse than usual. That's what makes it so frustrating at times.
Luckily, the solid parts do outnumber the not so memorable, but the album sure doesn't start out in the finest of fashions. "Inkwell" is a slow churning track, more vocal heavy than any other on the entire record, and it is because of that the track ultimately flounders. Vocalist Craig B.'s voice is shown throughout the album to be one that fits the mood and rhythms of the song behind it, but here, on "Inkwell," it simply doesn't show. The band is decidedly better when the instrumentation does the talking, but when used correctly, the vocals can provide an extremely powerful accompaniment. The second track, "Dreams and Bridges" provides somewhat of an improvement from the opening track, but the vocals here are again not used in the best of lights. The music is urgent, continuously building, changing, and the vocals are unable to follow suit. Such a dynamic sound needs to be that way in all facets, singing included.
Things drastically improve with the third, and longest song on the record, "The Unravelling." Right away you can tell it's different. Starting off with some subtle ambience, the delicate harmonics weave their way in amidst some eve more subtle drum patterns. Then enter the vocals, deep, raspy Isis-esque screaming, juxtaposed with some light, even more delicately sung vocals. The riffs are loud and towering, the rhythm section sweeps right through the heart of the song, giving off a real epic feel, the epic feel that this album needed. Something to pull it out of the doldrums the first two songs stranded it in.
"I Don't Need Your Love" doesn't hurt matters either, as the song is absolutely gorgeous. The vocals are so light, so delicate, so precisely delivered, all above the twinkling atmosphere the songs basis provides. The song absolutely shimmers with beauty and grandeur, succeeding so well where the first two songs ultimately failed -- failed in the ability to cultivate anything memorable, anything really even worth listening to. The rest of the song structures continue to surprise -- epic solos, drawn out ambience, etc. While it sounds to be a nonsensical mish-mash, the result is one that keeps you on your toes, and keeps you entertained at the very least.
Once the roadblock of the first two songs is passed, Seclusion becomes an exercise in both variety and execution. And I can say without hesitation, that save songs one and two, this album has both in spades.