ARTIST: A Thousand Hours
RELEASE: Endless Grey
RELEASE DATE: 17th March 2017
RECORD COMPANY: Unsigned
It was way back, way way back, in the early days that the slow but powerful shift of alternative music began to sweep the underground, from four chord punk, coming from either side of the Atlantic, to the somewhat alien sounds of what would later be determined as ‘post-punk’. Of these early post-punk bands, there was a much darker and ‘heavier’ sound. Songs consisted of baritone moans and screeching guitars, drum beats that many amateurs could play and thick bass lines. Funnily enough, skip forward a good forty years or so, and this is the sort of stuff you’re hearing on ‘Endless Grey’ by Alaskan based ‘A Thousand Hours‘. Dark, somewhat challenging but always tactically engaging, A Thousand Hours round up many of music histories greatest tricks and turn them into their own creation; churning out a heavy, tight and unique sound in the process. ‘Endless Grey’ is available to buy/download right now from onethousandhours.bandcamp.com
The album begins with the title track; a slow, yearning and distant piece of alt-rock/post-punk. The vocals remain husky for the songs duration, reaching a beautiful tone that syncs with a dizzying guitar on the chorus. The drums beat slowly to keep things going and a fantastically subtle piano is played deep underneath the music; just enough to sound as important as everything else in the mix of the tracks. ‘B’ follows in a darker tone, opening with the rustle of industrial sounds and what sounds to be the pluck of a harp, before the sound of French coldwave pours in; a great riff that hums through to the listener and the somewhat down trodden drumming accompanies muddy, challenging vocals in a collage of veiled beauty. Again, A Thousand Hours use the high keys on a sharp piano underneath everything. After several listens ‘B’ stands as a true album highlight; capturing everything so grand about what can be created with post-punk music. ‘Ship’ opens with an overtly post-punk bass tone, followed by the slow rattle of the drums. The vocals on ‘Ship’ are much more present than previous tracks; an element I think doesn’t pack as much of a punch for the band. The chorus still soars though, and one can feel an undercurrent of dream pop within the instruments, especially the guitar. ‘Moments’, a mesmerising soundscape filled wave of genuinely fantastic music creation furthers this touch of dream pop and adds another layer to it by again utilizing the wonders of slight, simple piano playing.
‘Tender’ returns again to the desolate, stripped back post-punk sound explored on the opening part of the album. It’s simple guitar strums drown out the FX’d vocals over and over again and the chorus passage of music showcases the lead vocals by flying them higher in the mix to again accompany the guitars. The almost minimal musicality in the song fits perfectly with the lyrics, that seem distant, dreamy and confusing all at the one time. An interlude follows, entitled ‘Hold’ before unleashing the next track ‘Down’, which also shines brightly as an album highlight; its soothing sounds drift again into the realms of dream pop. The slow strum of an acoustic guitar backs up a glowing synth like sound and the much more present but rewarding vocal tones. Its place as an album highlight is due to how wonderfully all the instruments are melded and linked together. ‘Flood’ is another great song, that slows thing down again; touching on points that showcased the bands talent in the first half of the album.
‘The Desolate Hour’ is one of the most stripped back songs on the entire release, but it again deploys many tropes associated with dark, alternative post-punk music to form into another stellar gathering of music. The entire song lives up to its title; the music never truly reaches out of the conceptual sludge it has decided to sink itself within; capturing the sound of drowning through a musical language that’s both engaging and wretched. Perhaps the deepest depths of the dark, claustrophobic post-punk caverns that A Thousand Hours dwell in is the almighty ‘Rainy Days’ that centres around a deep, heavy vocal lead and slow, thick, sludgy music that at the same time somehow sounds thin and slight at the same time. It’s weary and deep sound captures a movement that the band seemed to be taking slowly over the course of Endless Grey, as the title would suggest. ‘Closure’ is a guitar-lead instrumental track that churns out an almost danceable tune to counteract the tracks before it, but it remains within the stylistic elements of the album and its sound.
‘Endless Grey’ is as close to its title as it can get; darkness and a heel dragging tempo carries many of the songs around, dragging them behind on a metal chain of slow, heavy sounds and passages. There are the occasional tracks where the band take their foot off the accelerator and present a brighter, more upbeat dream pop influenced song. But for the most part, they remain within the parameters of classic coldwave; especially on the albums second half through the string of songs like ‘The Desolate Hour’, ‘Rainy Days’ and ‘Flood’. For this reason, some won’t fancy setting off through the journey of Endless Grey, and others may find it’s 11 track haul a lengthy one. But I ask you to indulge in it. It’s brilliance shines in its stylistic choices and its tense, yet loose performances. Altogether it is an immensely rewarding listen from a band who know exactly what they want. Where many bands in this area of alternative music tend to release five or more song releases with tracks that sound completely different from one another, A Thousand Hours stick to their conceptual guns and showcase 11 songs that stick together but remain fresh for the listener over the course of the album. Post-punk is in good hands, I suppose, is the moral of the story… And those hands have been used wisely here; to create a piece of music that shines in almost every aspect; especially song writing, performance, production and sound.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Cam Phillips is a writer and above all, a music lover, who seeks to gain experience through writing and listening. He is also an avid film viewer and art and literature junkie who enjoys creative writing. His most recent published work was featured on Baeble Music and Culture (USA), Sounds and Colours Magazine (Latin America, London), Easterndaze (Latvia) and the Australian based heavy music blog, I Probably Hate Your Band.