October 10, 2005

Explosions In The Sky "How Strange, Innocence"

Back in the summer of 2000, I took a road trip to Austin. While I was there, I ran into this kid I knew named Munaf. He lived in Midland, but I would often tap his band, Satori, as openers for some of the shows I booked, and when he was in town, he'd come by and hang out at the record store I worked at. But both the club and the record store closed down, and I hadn't seen any of those guys since. So it was a happy occasion for me to run into him. I asked him what he was doing, and he told me that he and some of the guys had moved to Austin and had started a band. He said they'd just released their debut album, and he just happened to have a copy of it. He proudly handed me the record, saying that he hoped I'd like it. He gave me a hug, thanked me for the support--again repeating that he hoped I liked his new record--and promised me they'd play Lubbock soon. I didn't have a way to listen to it at the time, but I put it on my pile of records from that weekend and anxiously looked forward to hearing it. Sure enough, I got home and listened to his record--How Strange, Innocence--and loved it. It didn't really sound like Satori--but what it did sound like was much, much better than what I'd expected.

I never understood why they chose to keep the record out of print. It seemed that they were embarassed by the record, which isn't really understandable. It's a great record, and it's not the tentative, embarassing baby-steps as they might think. Yeah, it's a debut record, and debut records do have a tendency to be embarassing, but that's most certainly not the case with How Strange, Innocence. True, the band's sound would become much more cinematic over the next year, and their second album, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Die, Those Who Tell The Truth Shall Live Forever didn't seem like that much of a progression--it seemed to merely expand on their debut's strong points--strong points which, sadly, very few have actually heard. I've heard that so sought after was this record, it wasn't uncommon to find it selling for hundreds of dollars on eBay. I could never think to part with my copy--because, to me, it's worth so much more.

This reissue rights that wrong, and it's about time. For those of you who are experiencing this record for the first time, you won't discover anything particularly revelatory; though it's been lost for nearly half a decade, it fits in nicely with their other releases, and there are some great, beautiful moments of utterly breathtaking proportions. Personally, I've loved "Snow and Lights" and "Look Into The Air" for ages. It's on those songs that the band started to blend the emptiness of West Texas into something grand--the initial baby-steps of what was to come next. Explosions In The Sky was born a leader--at the time of How Strange, Innocence, the band had only recently formed--and these early recordings rarely, if ever, betray their young age, and it paves the way for what would come next. The only thing the album doesn't do is tell you just how far their music would--and could, and can, and will--take them.

--Joseph Kyle

Artist Website: http://www.explosionsinthesky.com
Label Website: http://www.temporaryresidence.com

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