Wednesday 18 March 2020

Noir Reva - Continuance (2020)

Country: Germany
Style: Post-Rock
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 6 Mar 2020
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Instagram

I still don't have a firm grasp on what post-rock is, beyond the fundamental idea of creating soundscapes with traditional rock instruments, but I love a lot of what I'm hearing. Case in point: Noir Reva, a post-rock band who hail from Koblenz in Germany. They sound like they play electronic music but I'm reasonably sure that, if there are any actual keyboards in use here (surely the intro to They Do Exist proves that there are), they really aren't doing anywhere as near as much as we might think.

While Fiowia and Skyward open up proceedings with major emphasis, the quiet parts mostly serving as an underline to the more overt ones, this album does settle down as it goes until it's a sort of upbeat jangly ambience for quite a while, but with depth to it like all the best electronic music. Fiowia is the most overt rock song here with Skyward the most contrasted, its peaceful midsection leading into an agreeably dark conclusion.

My favourite song is easily Goraiko, which starts out much like it could be an instrumental post-rock cover of a wildly famous pop song I've never heard before. It grows and evolves as it goes, out of a vague sense of familiarity and into a voyage of discovery. The cover art fits this song because I could imagine starting it on those steps where I might have chatted with no end of people for years but ending it somewhere on the other side of those trees, where I've never previously been but which I'm better for now having visited.

While much of this album, as with much post-rock, could be the soundtrack to an imaginary film or book or video game, the most perky sections, like the beginning to Goraiko, sound rather like a better version of what we hear on YouTube compilations of fantastic football goals. I usually put those videos on mute because I don't want their generic and unimaginitive scores when I want commentary but I'd certainly leave the sound on if music like this was used instead, because it's far from generic and it's full of imagination.

While parts of this would work on videos like that, much of the album would not because it doesn't stay perky and upbeat. Come Back Apollo has darkness woven throughout, the jangling becoming somewhat melancholy. I don't know if Apollo ever plans to come back but, from the tone of this song, I doubt the band believe he will. I'm not sure what the subject matter of They Do Exist is but it's menacing enough in the midsection to count as the discovery of a suppressed alien invasion.

It's songs like They Do Exist that really highlight what post-rock does, as it could have been created entirely using synths but I'm assuming that that isn't a drum machine and those are guitars and a bass. It's an odd idea, to conjure up electronica-esque soundscapes with traditional rock instruments, but I'm really digging it and Noir Reva sound very good to me, soothing but with an underlying sense of menace.

There seem to be four gentlemen in the band, but I can't find details of the roles they play, beyond being songwriters. The other key information that I can provide is that this appears to be their second album, after a 2016 full length called Nuance, a title that could easily have been applied here too. It was a little shorter and the songs on it were a little shorter too, but I would like to hear it to see how the band have progressed.

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