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Whale Fall - The Madrean (Self-Released)

23 February 2015

Los Angeles’ Whale Fall is not your average band. With individual music work in TV and film like The X Files, and Kiss of Death, the fivesome approaches music in a cinematic manner with a strong attention to detail. Their new instrumental album, The Madrean, is a conceptual tribute to the region of North America spanning from the southwestern United States to northwestern Mexico, and a clear Ennio Morricone influence pervades the sound, stemming from repetitive, dusty rhythms and calculated use of horns. Whether intentional or not, it also gives the band a slight Death In June neofolk sound as well, especially on the album opener “The Dawn Thief” and “El Pistolero” which could easily find itself on a modern remake of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly.

What separates this album from a lot other instrumental works is that it all feels like a soundtrack for a movie that doesn’t exist yet, rather than being an independent work, and perhaps it’s their experience in film and TV that causes this. Many of the songs here like the slow and brooding “Tahquitz” sound incidental and ready-made for inclusion in a film, but while the record certainly does have this effect, the songs stand up incredibly well on their own. The beautifully gothic “On River, On Route,” is a melancholic tour de force. The Madrean is an enthralling, stunning work of art that never manages to shake your captivation, leaving you with a sense of awe.

 

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