Record #364: Caspian – Dust and Disquiet (2015)

Strange that despite my affinity for post rock and Caspian’s position as one of the scene’s most consistent voices, it took me until last month to listen to them at all. 
And I’ll admit, I didn’t start with this album (I believe it was Waking Season). My first listen through, I thought to myself, “ah yes, this is good. Borrows enough from Explosions in the Sky and classic era Sigur Ros to be a good listen but not so much so that it’s a blatant ripoff.” It was not terribly groundbreaking or important, but it was enjoyable nonetheless. Then someone recommended this record instead, and let me tell you–it blows the other out of the water.

Where as Waking Season was a pretty by-the-book piece of guitar-based, climax-chasing post rock, Dust and Disquiet is a massive work that harmonizes post rock’s sprawling threads into a gargantuan, cohesive statement. The album opens with “Separation No. 2,” a gentle atmospheric ballad awash with tape delay and muted trumpet. “Ríoseco” carries the same mood through it’s opening minutes, and you might be tempted to think the entire album will follow suit. Then, in “Ríoseco’s” third act, it takes a heavy, minor turn, closing as a metal song. “Arcs of Command” adds electronic beats to the fray; “Echo and Abyss” adds vocals. Then, the album collapses into “Run Dry,” a decidedly non-post rock acoustic guitar song, complete with sung verses and choruses. And that’s only half the record.

After wrenching the record from any and all expectations, Caspian continues to explore. The second half doesn’t get quite as heavy, but it is just as fearless. “Darkfield” plays with rhythm with Battles-like exuberance. The title track closes the album with strings and horns. All in all, Dust and Disquiet is an album that not only shows the breadth of post rock, but also Caspian’s mastery of that expanse.

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