Sparrows Swarm and Sing - Untitled II (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Sparrows Swarm and Sing

Untitled II (2006)

The Perpetual Motion Machine

Somewhere between Explosions in the Sky's beautiful twinkle and the dark, thunderous prowl of Godspeed! You Black Emperor lies Sparrows Swarm and Sing, instrumental devastation over the course of 27 and a half minutes that embraces new ideas of where to place crescendos and how long in letting them drag out.

While you'd be correct in recalling that isn't the first time I've used such a comparison, the instrumentation employed by the outfit also bring to mind earlier Murder by Death at points ("Part II"), with liberal use of cello and violin. There isn't so much a buildup here as there is a compelling smatter of, dare I say, catchy riffs on the strings, finishing the five-plus minute track off well.

Defending my generic RIYLs, I do feel like I'm revealing my devastatingly shallow knowledge of post-rock with an EITS namedrop, but come the sometimes commanding but usually delicate ringing in every track making up Untitled II it's easy to see that despite the sometimes cloudier nature of the album, a similar beauty to EITS's can be found. This is especially noteworthy in the nearly 18-minute closer, "Part III." While a little bit of vague conversation is spread over the first few minutes (as was "Part I"), there are also light xylophone plinks creating an atmosphere that's simply pretty. Eventually nearly all the instruments pick up in speed -- even the xylophone, as the guitars coalesce together and you can tell a powerful crescendo is to come -- and interestingly enough, it finishes with a good few minutes left to go, even after practically faking the listener out. While this hurts its impact a little bit, the unique placement allows for an easy albeit slightly unsettling letdown, complete with vaguely morbid organ, children happily yelling on a schoolyard playground, and a creepy, escalating-in-sound music box, the last two of which overlap to finish things.

Sub half-hour displays of epic proportions probably read a little weird on paper, but Sparrows Swarm and Sing have effectively proved that they're hardly impossible.

[Untitled II was previously available in 2005 on limited vinyl and CD-R formats; this however is its first official release on compact disc.]