Album Review: Fourteen Nights At Sea - 'Minor Light'

16 November 2015 | 4:31 pm | Staff Writer
Originally Appeared In

A dark, moody journey through the bleakest landscapes a group of Victorians can imagine.

Fourteen Nights At Sea are one of the only post-rock bands that genuinely sound like their name itself. The name evokes feelings of helplessness and being lost within the vast, dark and dangerous horizons of the ocean. The outfit's third outing into this expansive world, 'Minor Light', maintains this feeling, with broad sweeping sounds stretching as far as the eye (ear) can see (hear) in a bleakly artistic canvas of both colour and noise.

Opener 'Teeth Marks' sets the tone, with harsh distortion roaring over the thundering march provided by the drums. Screeching leads wail over the noise; making the listener feel like they are surrounded by the towering waves of a fierce sea, before everything steadily calms down, receding into a cocoon of ambience to lull the listener to sleep.

This dynamic checkpoint is where 'Them Colonies' begins, with the gentle moan of ambient guitars drifting through the void, before a steady drum beat allows the song to begin its mournful progression. As the track slowly builds, we see that Fourteen Nights At Sea have developed into masters of dynamic control. Rather than letting all go at once, the band allows the subtleties of a cymbal hit or guitar feedback to help the song grow, while the gentle foundation previously established holds it all together. The only issue here is that sometimes the band ends songs before they reach their full potential. 'Them Colonies' is a beautiful track, but feels undercooked by the time its conclusion suddenly arrives.

Equally, the title track itself stalls the pace of the record a bit. Rather than feel like a complete song, it takes the form of a slow, mechanical interlude, which doesn’t serve the record any purpose. However, the nine and a half minute 'Vale' brings the aforementioned into perspective, picking up on the elements left over and crafting them into another beautiful soundscape.  The first five minutes of the song tenderly float along, with the consistent pulse provided by the rhythm section, before they fade out and allow a wonderful foundation of heavenly noise to encompass the listener. The re-introduction of percussive elements serves as a yin to the yang for the piece, with an aura of darkness casting its shadow. This shadow fades with the song itself, leaving the listener with a feeling of sobriety - an incredible effect from such tender and intimate music.

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'Chiltern Justice' sees off the record, beginning with a more ominous undertone. The ferocious roar of guitars is held back in the mix, while the soft, yet dark, sounds around it begin to slowly develop. When the song finally unleashes, it explodes into a wall of noise, with the same slow march of the toms accompanying the chaotic tones of the guitars. After this all dies away, the album closes out with the soft, eerie guitar tones trademark of any post-rock album.

'Minor Light' has its moments when it shines, but the bleak nature of this album will be hard to digest for some. It is an album that requires patience, practice and an open mind, but, should one be familiar with the quirks of post-rock, it will be a record that serves as a handy addition to the CD wallet for the summer.

There are admittedly some parts of 'Minor Lightthat take longer than one would wish. However, overall, this is a record with some beautiful moments amongst the darkness, and, therefore, is a valued addition to the Australian post-rock community.

1. Teeth Marks

2. Them Colonies

3. Minor Light

4. Vale

5. Chiltern Justice