A lot of bands cobble together their debut EP, and sometimes even their debut albums, putting together a rough and ready set of songs that they’ve found to work well in the practice room or live environment and which they feel best represents their potential…
Often little thought is given to cohesiveness or tone, they simply need an audience to hear enough of what is to come from them, to be intrigued enough to follow their every move from here on out. Or so goes the dominant logic. As such, it can be utterly refreshing when a band comes out with a debut that is unabashedly expansive and grandiose, one which makes an absolute statement of intent, instead of simply hinting at what is to come from them. do just that with a set of ludicrously ambitious and accomplished prog rock/post-hardcore which crafts an immersive listening experience full of theatrical twists and turns.
From the very opening, we know we are in for a sweeping piece of epic storytelling as lead vocalist Chris Knight announces that he is ‘sailing on a stolen ship with [his] brothers’ amidst a slow building introduction awash in cello and piano atmospherics. Navel-gazers they ain’t. This segues seamlessly into first track proper ‘Ages Coming (Hey Hey)’, which comes in all stuttering rhythmic percussion and waves of lush clean guitars before giving way to an all out gallop and wailing leads awash in glorious reverb, the kind you can most easily envision ringing out from a cliff top.
These become a mainstay for many of the EP’s high points, and along with the generous use of sweet vocal harmonies, help call to mind the pre-punk 70s luminaries of classic journey-faring rock. However, there are so many reference points contained within the band’s sonic patchwork: the section of ‘Murders’ with its ‘whoa-oh’ gang vocals could be culled from glory years, and later mutates into a floaty piece of shimmering post-rock; and there’s a real earthy, bluesy quality to their most thoughtful moments, particularly with the fingerpicked guitars and gravelly vocals at the start of closer ‘High West’.
Perhaps the only issue is that this sort of high-concept approach doesn’t work quite as well given the limited space of an EP, offering as it does the depth of a novella in place of a fully fledged opus. As such it’s hard to get a sense of what’s going on that lends import to a character speaking lyrics such as ‘lately I’ve been dreading my dreams, they’ve got me armed to the teeth’. However, this is hardly a fault; the band manage to captivate us enough within these five tracks to show what they’d be capable of given room for expansion. Perhaps the clue was in the name: These Paper Satellites are clearly aiming for orbit, and whilst they don’t quite manage it on launch, they are surely on the right trajectory.
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Originally published @ http://musicalmathematics.co.uk/ep-review-these-paper-satellites/