Tarentel's debut is elegant post-rock in the Mogwai / Slint tradition. The five extended tracks here are long and serious-minded, and there's the sense throughout that they really know and care about what they're doing. Their lovely crisp guitar arranging and masterful control of long-range dynamics is shown perfectly on "Steede Bonnet", its country twangs adding an individual touch. The traditionally slow, arching ebb and flow of this opener is offset nicely by the punchy alt-rock of the second piece "When We Almost Killed Ourselves". Their musical imagination reveals itself more and more as the album goes on. "Ursa Minor, Ursa Major" maintains a patient tension with tight pingy guitar crossrhythms, until pounding chords blast out at six minutes. The extended post-climax section drags a couple of minutes longer than necessary, but the absorbing "For Carl Sagan" thoroughly deserves its 20 minutes. Building a gripping tension with one and a half chords, it's up there with the best of Mogwai. A refreshing antidote to some of the more derivative stuff that was to be made later in this genre.
August 17, 2008