There is something peculiarly sentimental about listening to an album (especially a good one) by a band who didn’t last to see its release. It’s the knowledge that the sounds entering your ears are the product of months or years of creative labor and yet still aren’t quite enough — for whatever reason — to convince whoever made them to sit down and create more. Quite often it’s the overhanging recognition that at the time of recording, the band in question might have seen its demise coming; posthumous releases can have something of the retrospective evocation of a hand-written letter penned by a late friend during his or her final days.
Other Arms, Redjetson’s sophomore full-length, is as much a substantiation of the motives behind the British sextet’s dissolution as it is a proud epitaph. Taken on its own decontextualized stead, the album is huge: a sumptuous, smoothly considered and frequently beautiful hour of cascading minor chords fused with icy-fingered guitar and mellow, demoralized incantations. “For Those Who Died Dancing” is perhaps the standout, as its rushes of semi-overdriven guitar dissolves into Clive Kentish’s ever-resigned baritone and murmurs of near-Gregorian backing vocals. Closer “These Structures” scintillates; its thunderous final minute of molten riffery must sum up how most post-rock bands dream of ending its careers. From a lyrical standpoint, it seems the band knew it would all end here: “I can feel this fire burning out,” Kentish heaves one moment on “Beta Blocker”. While the ensuing track, “For Those Who Died Dancing”, finds him declaring, “And it’s all over now.”
While Redjetson’s sound frequently falls short of colossal, it is distinctly familiar to anyone who has heard its debut. It will be a stretch for anyone to find a huge amount of progression on New General Catalogue or for anyone who has heard Explosions in the Sky, iLiKETRAiNS or Sigur Rós. Catalogue seemed fresh on its release in 2005 because Kentish’s brooding melancholy overlaid the staple post-rock sound with a distinctive vocal element, placing the focus squarely on the songs as a whole, not just the clichéd “glacial soundscapes”. Now that we’ve become familiarized with Kentish and his band, Redjetson has become another victim of just how everyday — unremarkable, even — post-rock as a genre has rendered grandeur. Four years on from its debut, Redjetson’s music is every bit as beautiful as it was, just not nearly as impressive.