I liked this from the very beginning, Prince Rupert's Drop being a capable owner, but it grew on me as the next few songs underlined just how much mastery April Rain have over their tone. Post-rock needs tone as much as nuance to be able to conjure up the soundscapes it exists to do and this has both. The chime sound midway through Tin Woodsman is evocative and the tone as Chiral Allergy begins is just as exquisite as the echo at the start of Tsuru.
April Rain, presumably named for the song by Delain, began life as a one man band in the Ukraine but the civil war prompted Valera Bykov to move to Russia, where they expanded to a four piece and have released a number of albums. If I'm counting properly, this is their sixth studio album. Certainly, they have a maturity to them that's most overt on songs with major builds like Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. This one starts out with beautiful but exquisitely sharp guitar notes that sound like icicles falling. As it grows, we can imagine the seasons turning, increasingly quickly until they start to blur.
That maturity is obvious on a first listen, but repeat runs through make it all the more impossible to miss. This may be deceptively easy music to listen to, but it's hard to avoid the emotional arc running through Prince Rupert's Drop, achieved by contrasting such delicacy with such intensity. Many of the nine songs still to come do that too and I think the transitions are my favourite part of the album.
If there's anything better here, it would have to be the way April Rain handle echo. It might seem like there's little happening in Remission, for instance, which is just a brief interlude between halves, but if we open our ears, we'll hear that everything's happening. It's so deep that we fall into it, which is a great way to start Sleeping Beauty Syndrome. The echo on the percussion in Tsuru is impeccable, and it makes me wonder which of various meanings of that Japanese word they're aiming at. It may be the noun for crane, but I'm going more for the verb meaning to lure in, tempt or entice.
Information about April Rain seems to be thin on the ground, at least in the English language. What I can find all seems to come from the same source, which may or may not be out of date. I'm presuming that Valera Bykov is still the main guy in the band and that he's playing guitar. If the line-up I found is still accurate, there's also Pasha Kuznecov on guitar, Vasya Juravlev on bass and Denis Arynovich on drums. They're all patient and precise, doing exactly as much or as little as they need to conjure up an atmosphere and let it flow. I'm impressed with all of them, separately and together.
This is a generous album, lasting only seconds shy of an hour, but there are no epics here. With just a single exception in that interlude, that means nine pieces of music of between five and eight minutes each. That seems to be a sweet spot for April Rain, because it allows them to build songs naturally and let them breathe in the process. The moments of silence hovering between notes are just as important as the notes themselves.
I haven't heard the five April Rain albums before this one, but I'm eager to check them out because of the strength of this one. It's so quintessentially what the genre is all about that maybe the definition of post-rock at Wikipedia should be a link to this album's Bandcamp page.