Release Date: 12 March 2011
© 2011 Fluttery Records
Notes for the Synthesis is constructed of 6 unified tracks moving through gloomy and melancholic passages to intense and captivating soundscapes. Each track tells its own tale in the overall storyline, inviting the listener into the role of narrator and interpretor of the instrumental introverted musical journey.
The album further explores The Seven Mile Journey´s musical approaches and concepts deeper than ever before, along with combining these with new ones. Through this the band creates new layers in their music and is intensifying and broadening the overall dimensions and expression in the songs, in the sound of The Seven Mile Journey, and in the new album as a whole.
Nowlikephotographs / Record Of The Week
The Seven Mile Journey, a Danish quartet, has been procuring long-form post-rock for a decade and a few years, with their latest effort – and arguably most cohesive and polished to-date – seeing a March 12th release on the new post-rock imprint Fluttery Records. Known for tracks which in and of themselves create individual sonic seven-mile journeys, The Seven Mile Journey exude an aesthetic laden with contemplative gloom and the intelligent sparseness of storytelling, passed through a post-rock filter of repetition and crescendo. Topping their previously lengthiest track (“Passenger’s Log, The Unity Fractions” from 2006′s The Journal Studies, length 15:28) with introduction “Departures” and opener “The Alter Ego Autopsies”, the listener knows immediately that the group has honed, focused, and sharpened its musical vision, as attention is never lost over those first 22 minutes. Reserve and restraint are evident and well-used, particularly by percussive elements in “Simplicity Has a Paradox” and the opening of closer “The Etiology Diaries,” below its darkly shimmering ambiance. In successfully avoiding spectacle and excessive musical speculation, The Seven Mile Journey have crafted an hour of post-rock which asks questions of its listeners, yet yields few answers.
Popzags / Mateusz Wróblewski
For ages, my mind was connecting The Seven Mile Journey's music with ascesis. Their total opposition to genric post-rock expressed with limited and sophisticated range of instrumental ; incredibly simple album covers constanly including the portraits of four men plunged in deep thought; hell, even the band name was derived from the title of their first demo - initially, they were intending to not have a name for their activities at all. So let me begin with news that are frankly the lack of news: in fact, Aalborg quartet still prefers to stay anonymous and still puzzles the listeners with mazes of curious song titles.
Does it mean that nothing changed? Not really. New, somewheat more complex (!) cover art announces new concepts. Main and the easiest one to spot is the exposure of piano keys as the workhorse for entire, multi-layered compositions. The instrument that remained a minor spice on previous releases is essential to make twenty-minute colossus 'The Alter Ego Autopsies' work; without it, such long track would be easily forgottable. But here, devoted fans will be delighted to find a connection between this song and former 'Alter Ego Justifications' which was recorded no less than six years ago. Clearily, Danes are still in process of making one coherent music story; the modern requirement of dividing it into separate releases remains a slight inconvenience.
Main risk of 'Notes for Synthesis' (note: there is a evident emphasis the band puts on picking anthropological/botanical song titles) was that the band will use piano to turn towards boring direction of genric, bombastic, nausea-causing post-rock. Fortunately, even one of the least excellent songs of new album - 'Simplicity Has a Paradox' proves us otherwise. The band fully controls distance between it's style and daily post-rock chaff; even if the field is capable of recording better outros, the power of Seven Mile Journey lies in what's in the middle of songs - not in the climaxes.
But: stay calm, this is only the beginning. 'The Engram Dichotomy' opens a little awkward, being seemingly a track that did not made into 'Metamorphosis Project' for obvious music disadvantages. However, what happens later totally nullifies this impression; clearily, Danes are using great skill at playing with mainstream post-rock by recording a song that approaches it's risky border - yet, it never crosses it. Closing with a memorable outro, the track transitions into 'Transits', where one can realise that T7MJ's does not play depressing songs anymore - in fact, this piece sparks the comparisons with Vangelis (just listen to those drums!).
All roads lead to 'The Etiology Diaries'. A song that opens like this can't really do anything but make one play it over and over again, even if the follow-up isn't 100% convincing. However, Danes fully maintained the excellence at drawing the listeners into their twisted world; one can't help the feeling that crafting such powerful yet simple percussion beats takes lot of time and that we are going to wait couple more long years to start The Same Journey all over again - yet in different shoes.
Even if it's true, this album is worth time it takes. It might be not so thrilling as 'The Metamorphosis Project', but it still pinpoints the strenghth of The Seven Mile Journey - and the strength of unorthodox, ascetic post-rock as well.
Caleidoscoop / Jan Willem Broek
Last month, American quality label Fluttery has already shown to have the better post-rock. Bands from Portugal (Diamond Gloss), Russia (Freedom Voyagers), England (Double Handsome Dragons) and Serbia (Ana Never) show that well what. Now they release the new CD Notes For The Synthesis by The Seven Mile Journey from Denmark. The quartet is active since 1999 and previously released a self-titled demo in 2001, and the CDs The Journey Studies (2006) and The Metamorphosis Project (2008). Nicolai, Jakob, Morten and Henrik construct their usually long tracks from guitars, piano, bass, samples, and drums. The six instrumental tracks on their latest CD are between 2 (the intro) and 20 minutes, and are really just one long track with inaudible breaks. They really take their time to build up their music. The CD opens with a pleasantly nagging guitar sound reminiscent of Godspeed You! Black Emperor. That band returns more often as an association in their music, and also Mogwai, Mono, Sonic Youth and Explosions In The Sky. As with many other post-rock bands, quite forceful outbursts occur in the music. However, it seems like The Seven Mile Journey intends to tell an thrilling story more than to focus on the louder or softer parts. It is exactly for that reason, that one stays on the edge of one's seat the whole while, and sometimes even get blown off of that, although it never gets really aggressive. There is a pleasantly softening shoegaze sound mixed in with the more powerful parts. They manage to vary nicely, and move, for example, from intimate piano pieces to gritty guitar ambient and imposing post-rock. The soundscapes they create are layered en beautifully melancholic. Everything fits; no note too many, and no weaker moments. Additionally, it is also an intensely beautiful album!
Muzikdizcovery / Mat Fukano
Ah, it's so refreshing when, once in a while, post-rock projects like Denmark-based band Seven Mile Journey release something in a minor key, really bringing out different emotions and feelings within songs, instead of just trying to rip off Sigur Rós (though to this, I have no objections, because post-rock in general is a great genre). But, getting back to the purpose, the tracks on the record are connected, passing on the subtle, sweeping sound, each in its own building up and releasing, in a cathartic motion, an intense and trudging buildup to the end.
For example, "The Altar Ego Autopsies", the second song on the record, flows on from the first song, "Departure", but carries a sad and even horrific air to start, sounding a little like the intro to Halloween. As the song progresses, however, it begins a very Explosions in the Sky-esque buildup, hopefulness behind every stroke, until the mood suddenly begins to die away and lead into "Simplicity Has a Paradox", which sounds more like a funeral mourning at the beginning than anything else, but leads into a faster and darker sound which further more enchants and entices.
Overall, this record creates a haunting and beautiful sound that really just stuck with me for a while - I couldn't get it out of my head. The different layers of sound in the songs are so well meshed that each aspect melds with one another and just creates such a fantastic work of post-rock that I could appreciate it as much the first listen as I could the fifth (and believe me, I'm far past the fifth listen).
Danish post-rock quartet left already quite an impression on me with their first two CDs The Journey Studies (2006) and The Metamorphosis Project (2008). Three years went by since their last album, which might be explained by their switching to a new record label. Otherwise not that much has changed though. The four Danes are still pursuing eagerly their musical vision.
Notes For The Synthesis may only contain six tracks, but it still manages to run slightly over an hour. Unlike many other post-rock bands whose panoply of instruments is rather vast, The Seven Mile Journey limit themselves to drums, bass, guitars and the occasional keyboard part. It speaks for them that despite this self-inflicted austerity, their songs still work great and never fail to deliver momentum and suspense. Like in the past, the album works as an entity, with the songs fading into each other, making it occasionally hard to know when the next track has started. The album begins with the two minute intro Departures which segues into the twenty minute monster The Alter Ego Autopsies which is the longest piece the band has crafted so far. Don’t expect a musical rollercoaster as you get from progressive rock bands. Instead The Seven Mile Journey focus their energies on building their momentum over long periods of time, even if, as in this case, this takes a whole twenty minutes. The following Simplicity Has A Paradox and the concluding The Etiology Diaries also make it well over ten minutes.
At first I felt a little let down, because at times not so much seems to be happening, but repeated listening revealed the musicians’ talent in creating incredible suspense just by using their regular rock instruments. The drums for instance often go a long time without any snare beats, emphasising thus the lower registers of the instrument. The guitars are of course the major contributor and offer a whole variety of sounds, from cello like strumming to ethereal string picking, all the while procuring a haunting mood that after some time will get you hooked.
It is quite possible that Notes For The Synthesis is The Seven Mile Journey’s finest effort so far. They have certainly not reinvented themselves, but they definitely have refined their skills and have come up with their most hypnotic album so far, a true one-hour tour de force that no self-respecting post-rock fan can allow themselves to miss.
The Silent Ballet / Mohammed Ashraf
Rating: 8 /10
Notes for the Synthesis gets to the point. The album has a very strong sense of direction, and is in continuous motion from start to finish. Three long years have passed since the band released the widely appreciated The Metamorphosis Project. In listening to both releases, one can easily identify the band's evoution.
The Seven Mile Journey has shown progress in every release, while refusing to stick to a formula or sound. The forward leaps haven't been humongous, but they've always been for the better. The Metamorphosis Project was an extremely good album, though it suffered from a lack of oomph, the edginess that cuts through the calm, elevates the experience and heightens the emotions. But Notes for the Synthesis contains plenty of oomph. From the opening salvo, the notes are dark and the mood is tense. The louder moments land exactly where they should. (Call me old fashioned, but nothing says “loud” as much as overdriven/distorted guitar, crashing cymbals and snares, and a strong bass backbone.) The buildups are more condensed than ever, and the transitions more timely. The quiet parts include everything from intelligent guitar interplay to Blueneck-styledbuildups.
The band doesn’t have a weak link. The drumming is creative, eschewing mundane patterns and marching snares. The guitar melodies and effects are beautiful, and when they go into overdrive, they're unstoppable. Yet the real star is the bass. In almost 60 reviews I’ve written for The Silent Ballet, the only bassist that got my attention was Slon’s Alexandr Vatagin. The rest weren’t bad, just safe-styled, overly dependent on root notes and mirrored guitar chords. One need look no further than the album’s last track “The Etiology Diaries” to know that the bassist plays it far from safe. On this track, the guitars pave a path through infinitely decaying, reverberated notes, and the bass strides confidently on its still-warm asphalt. The song provides a perfect ending to the album.
Notes for the Synthesis is one long piece of music, but each of the six tracks is strong enough to stand on its own. No track overshadows the rest; the album can operate either as a stream of consciousness or as a clearly defined story. Some may argue that “The Alter Ego Autopsies” could have been split into two shorter tracks, but they’d be missing the point. This is not an album for the iPod Shuffle. Listen, fall in love, and repeat.