review

SSG Music

If you buy the MeridiansLP looking for a new thisquietarmy release, prepare for disappointment. Barely clocking in at 30 minutes total, the album consists of two tracks of fairly subtle ambient drone, especially when compared to thisquietarmy’s solo output. It’s better to treat the album as more of a side-project; an experiment in recording as well as composition. Learning the story behind this particular project is half the fun. Understanding just what lengths these two artists went to create these multi-layered soundscapes is key to enjoying them.
Meridians is a joint work years in the making, as thisquietarmy’s Eric Quach collaborated (not collaborate in the classic sense, mind you, as Quach resides in Montreal and Cortez in Chicago) with his personal influence, Scott Cortez (also known as lovesliescrushing), to produce this ambient experiment. Rather, the two artists created the first half of both tracks simultaneously, sending their contributions to each other to finish the pieces. It’s somewhat of a post-rock game of Telephone, and ends up being just as coherent.
“41° 52? 50? N, 87° 42? 39? W” (yes that is the first track’s title) is a brooding, heavy piece of drone, enveloped in the overwhelming darkness of low-end frequencies, lightly kissed with ghostly harmonics. Turning up the bass gives the experience a physical component providing a tangible feedback to the recorded hypnotic hum. It is the sonic distillation of the scientific definition of gravity spread out over 13 minutes. To say that the song doesn’t “go anywhere” is an understatement; more like the song parks its ass on the couch for a good quarter hour and then expects a pat on the back. But Meridians never claimed to go anywhere, post-rock was always more concerned about the journey itself.
The second side, “45° 30? 4? N, 73° 33? 29? W,” sounds closer to what thisquietarmy is known for: a buoyant slice of strings and signals that builds slowly to its glorious climax. The high tones shimmer, the low tones churn, and then everything slowly fades out before coming back together in a hailstorm of crunchy analog loops. Side B is melodramatic sonic wankery at its most classic, interesting and immediately accessible while being enjoyable to boot.
The Meridians LP succeeds as a report on an experiment, a recorded document of a process that both artists were unfamiliar with. But as a record, even for the most well-weathered fan of post-rock, the album is too disjointed to be regarded as any more than a curiosity (or a treat for thisquietarmy fans). Like many other joint releases, the sides are distinct from one another in both goals and narratives, too far apart to provide a theme but too close in philosophy to offer interesting juxtaposition. Meridians ends up as a fascinating but ultimately tangential thought experiment that requires (and hopefully will get) more exploration.