Sometimes life puts you in front of crucial decisions and the way you respond is going to influence the rest of your days. With the necessary differences, sometimes even in the evolution of a musical band, musicians are confronted with choices and crossroads, and the way in which they decide to proceed will have an influence on the future production. On last summer (it was early September 2017, to be precise), American post-rock band Night Verses announced the departure of vocalist Douglas Robinson from their ranks. But instead of starting the research for a new singer, one who could demonstrate to able to adapt to the particyular style of the group, the other three founding members established at that point to continue their activity as an instrumental trio, without vocalists. By the way, Nick DePirro, Reilly Herrera and Aric Improta were already playing as an instrumental act the day when Douglas Robinson saw them playing live and expressed the interest to join the band as vocalist. It was 2012, and the story of Night Verses was started. Now, almost six years after that day, the band releases their third LP, From the Gallery of Sleep, and they’re back as the origin: a trio of skilled musicians that don’t need anything more than their instruments to create magic atmospheres and engaging progressive songs.
These three guys believe that their music may speak even without words, and I’m here today to say that it’s absolutely true. It’s basically like being in a position to appreciate a landscape without any single element that captures all of your attention: you can enjoy all the individual details of the scene, the chromatic differences, the nuances, and each time you go back to the same spot you may enjoy a different experience from that you had before.
Like every records of instrumental music, it takes a special talent to make all songs equally interesting and also for providing the listener with something interesting to hear from the first to the last track of the LP. Evdidently these three guys from Los Angeles have everything which is necessary to achieve this goal, and as a matter of fact each one of the the thirteen tracks of From the Gallery of Sleep has something unique and particuar. And presumably the fact of being once again on the front line, without the centralizing figure of a singer. gave each of the three musicians new stimuli to go even further in their search for new inspirations and emotions to share with us.
Maybe it’s too early to say it and we’ll have to come back to this statement in a few months, but this is probably one of the most beautiful records of instrumental music that has been released in recent years. What is certain, however, as something that we perceive as early as the first minutes of listening, is how the transition from a conventional post-rock quartet to a trio of progressive instrumental music has taken place in an absolutely natural way, and the results of such evolution go far beyond what we could imagine at the moment of the announcement of the new album.
From a musical point of view, the genres-bending music style that is intepreted by Night Verses in their new album is – at first sight – the same mix of progressive rock and post-metal that the band consolidated and refined since their debut LP six years ago. The characteristic elements of their sound are all present on the new album: the rapid palm-muting sweeps and the deep and heavy textures of sound created by guitarist Nick DePirro, the incredible polyrhythmic structures – sometimes at the limit of the human immagination – created by the virtuoso drummer Aric Improta, and the muscular and hypnotic basslines fired relentlessy by Reilly Herrera. But what makes it all unique and special is the fluidity through which all of these elements blend together. The skills and special techniques of the three musicians are evident and are undeniably part of the value of the album, but the virtuosistic pieces are almost in all passages at the total service of music. You also perceive a sense of naturalness that is also due to the valuable choice (which is definitely not common for this type of music) to avoid any backing tracks or extra instruments to be put on the album in post production. Also the electronic inserts, as we learn from some interviews they made in recent times, are manually triggered as they play their instruments.
As a last comment, From the Gallery of Sleep has that special feature to be fascinating and enjoyable both from a technical and spiritual point of view, something that’s quite unique in these modern days. Whether you listen to it following the intricate lines that are drawn by the individual instruments (the technical approach), or you forget about the single instruments and decide to feel the songs a single sound streams (the spiritual approach), the experience you get is equally engaging. In a certain way it is almost like listening to the inventions in three or four voices by Johann Sebastian Bach: one can focus on the single voices and enjoy how them follow each other across each song, or rather enjoy the harmony that is generated by the ensemble. The comparison may seem a bit extreme, but for lovers of modern progressive music this is in any case a record which is destined to leave a fairly deep mark in the years to come.