Civil Protection – Stolen Fire (Bunnysnot Records)

Posted by vibrations on 05-09-13

The rapidly swelling synth, guitar and noise cocktail of short opener ‘Strike the Match, Light the Fuse’ drops straight into the hammering riff of ‘My Memories Will Be Part of the Sky’ which then alternates between loud/quiet passages in a Mogwai stylee. Welcome to another post rock album! It’s a dramatic opening for sure, the three guitars and bass combining to give real weight to the music, but adds nothing new to the post rock templates we’ve heard dozens of times before.

Thereafter, however, things pick up considerably. The guitar arrangement on ‘Alaska’ sets up a hypnotic pulse that almost swings (in a jazz way); powered by some imaginative interplay between bass and drums ‘Many Moons Ago’ plays creatively with the loud/quiet, fast/slow approach; ‘Section 47' seems to be a brief electronic variation on the main riff of the track it segues into, ‘From the Parish to the Pavement’, which turns out to be the centre piece of the entire album: a gnarly bass pushes the piece through an arrangement that opens up like a mad flower and terminates in an ecstatically crunching riff.

There are only two lapses in judgement: ‘Monedula’’s delicate chiming guitars and wispy synth represents the obligatory ‘quiet and restrained’ touch to demonstrate, presumably, the bands grasp of nuance and restraint, but the track meanders badly and more than outstays its five minute duration; secondly, the closing title track strives to be meaningfully epic but is constructed of clichéd, predicable elements and simply ends up providing a hollow anti-climax.

Still, there is much to be admired here, and if Civil Protection can focus on (even recognise?) the elements of their music that make them a cut above the rest, their second album could be really something very special indeed.

Steve Walsh

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