A New Dawn Fades - I See the Nightbirds (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

A New Dawn Fades

I See the Nightbirds (2007)

Alone / NFI

Amazing the music just two men can make. At times grandiose and at times understated, A New Dawn Fades is a two-piece project that stretches their means far beyond what most would think capable. But throughout the course of I See the Nightbirds, Nate McGothlin and PJ Sykes take guitar, drums, ebow, trumpet, bells, and organs, disperse them out over nine songs, and craft some engaging and impressive post-rock that's not to be taken for granted.

It's easy to listen to this band, or any of its ilk, and lump them in with any other act playing the style, but to do that would be to drastically undersell two men whose talents shimmer like the snare drum McGothlin so delicately commands.

The subtleties speak the loudest; a close listen to "The Glories of Summer Camps Past" reveals how unbelievably precise the time they keep is. Each pluck of the guitar strings has a feel more tense and unpredictable than the one before it, and as the song shows, quick hits of distortion and pounding of the base drums are never far around the corner. That's what keeps not only that song, but the album as a whole interesting. Too many post-rock bands fall into the trap of complacency -- their music will sound good, but never exciting and never challenging.

A New Dawn Fades avoids this all too familiar pitfall with an easy solution: variance in song lengths. It seems simple enough, but it's not something that bands always take into account when writing their ‘epic' 27-minute songs. "Who's Afraid of the Late Virginia Summers" follows "The Glories"'s harsh crescendo with 30 seconds of delicate ambience that perfectly prefaces the industrial sounds of "Internet vs. Industry, Internet Wins Every Time." Without having to rely on creating something jaw-dropping with each and every track, ANDF can create a cascading atmosphere that exemplifies the beauty so many fall short with. It's a delicate beauty, a beauty that can be easily overlooked if not listening correctly, but it's there. It's always there, in the background of every sweeping bit of instrumentation and the foreground of any ambience that proceeds it.

It'll take some patience and a keen ear to boot, but the rewards are there; the grandeur is there. It's not always loud, and it's not always epic, but it's everything a post-rock record should be. Because above all, it keeps you waiting, waiting for that moment when it all comes to a head, and you're the only one there to listen.