The Sea, Like Lead / Belegost - Split (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Sea, Like Lead / Belegost

Split (2006)

Electric Human Project

The Electric Human Project label is one that makes it a mission to ensure that bands performing sounds that can only be found a bit off the beaten path are heard. And thus, we're given solid releases like this, a split release between them and Hard Travelin' Records featuring a pair of instrumental acts (of the post-rock/experimental variety, of course): the Sea, Like Lead, and Belegost. And at 3 tracks and a total running length of 41 minutes, it's hard not to use "epic" ad nauseum.

The Sea, Like Lead is up first, serving the anti-climactic (Iin a very desolate but beautiful way) but appropriately titled and seven-minute-long "Anticline/Syncline." It begins with a heavy rock base akin to Godspeed You Black Emperor!, with these big riffs eventually giving away to slow, methodical churning of skittery, bell-like chords (think Explosions in the Sky here, as lazy as a comparison that might sound). The rising and falling action here is minimal, but TSLL apply a very interesting aspect to the action with spoken word distorted so harshly with a walkie talkie effect that it's hard to make out the words; and while it does sound like it's vaguely philosophical babble at best, it creates an excellently spacey vibe. The same type of speech is employed to the band's other contribution, the 12-minute "Twilight of the Gods," even more incomprehensive but very minimally used. Regardless, the heavy guitar distortion is used effectively, introducing to the truly "floating in space" aura moments of sudden discovery, as if planetary clusters are passing by. Before you know it, all the elements of the song have layered themselves upon each other; the transition really is so subtle it's hard to pinpiont exactly where it takes place. This ends up in a climax that's reached in a very moving, distant way.

While the same of that latter song can be said for Bellegost's sole contribution, the 23-minute-long closing track "Nightwalker/Deergod," it captures the effect of this method in an even greater manner. The first five minutes are somewhat uneventful, simply meandering by, but then some standard drumming comes in, and heavy, commanding riffs pound every few seconds to take charge of the song. When this starts to let up, the mid-tempo, modest parade starts to take shape. One guitar is manipulated to craft atmospheric whimpering in the left speaker, while the second, in the right speaker for its first few times, offers a quick, strangely descending Zeppelin-esque riff. Just under halfway through, the song suddenly picks up a cheerful tone; assumingly the Deergod has now come into play. Four or five minutes later, things get really interesting. You can tell the riffs are quickly beginning to really build toward something, and the tempo is shifting into moderately faster territory; the chords become more urgent with every second, and everything begins to beg for a layered, chaotically beautiful explosion of light and sound. And that's exactly what we're given, as the drums are rhythmically pounded and guitars continue to fill the soundscape with their squeals. Chimes can be lightly heard tapped in the background, providing a gentle distraction. Not to mention, this entire, nicely drawn out experience is one that lasts five minutes. The last minute and a half, everything converges and shakes together into one pretty ball of noise disappearing into a musical black hole.

The Sea, Like Lead and Belegost craft some swell post-rock instrumental with their split here, and while it's packaged in a 100% recycled arrigato pack, the music inside is hardly disposable.