The Constellation Branch - The Dream Life, The Real Life, The Empty Glass...
Hailing from Arizona, The Constellation Branch were formed initially as just two (singer Jordan Cruz and guitarist Bryce Hill) in 2006 and having gone through various metamorphoses/demos/bassists they finally settled on a steady four-man line-up. The two additions were drummer Stephen O'Sicky and bassist Aaron Motley and in July 2007, armed with a few recordings and many dreams they went ahead and started work on 'The Dream Life, The Real Life, The Empty Glass...'.
I'm told by Bryce Hill that this fully-length, expertly-engineered recording was recorded 'primarily at their friend's Mom's house', which gives this instant plus points for imaginative solutions - the sound quality and balancing is spot-on, so either somebody's Mom has an acoustically perfect basement or there is some real sound engineering talent behind this album, and Bryce credits Mike Dwyer and James Mitchell for the production. Top marks for them both, I say. That's on top of the album itself - a moody, melodic post-hardcore gathering of ideas and suggestions. Instrumentally, it's a far cry from your standard rock line-up - there are more than a few effects and instruments in here, some only used once but to great effect.
Everything on this album is all about variety - the songs range from 42-second interludes ('Ellipses' - a wonderfully flowing guitar track) and 18-minute showcases ('The Dream Sequence'). The layout is almost conceptual - the actual music fortunately less so but the atmosphere is certainly one of the most immersing I've ever come across. In between there are heavy rock tracks like 'The Empty Glass (Zero Equals Zero)' and some Mew-esque cognitive offerings such as 'The Dream Life', which by the way is excellent.
This album took a year to produce and that is a good thing - any less time spent would have been a moment wasted for The Constellation Branch. They've put together something interesting, listenable and maybe a little progressive but not in such a pretentious way that it makes you want to flip the bird at your stereo. Put this album on, pour yourself a finger of whisky and just let yourself drift.
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