On “The Shipwreck“, Whales and Aurora give birth to a sonic landscape that conjures the metaphoric image of a person lost in the bleak, blackness of a solemn night sea, post-storm. A physical, or rather, emotional place where one sees “darkness as a visible noise and not as something you cannot define“, and the “absence of light as a presence of darkness“. Whales and Aurora certainly know how to weave these nocturnal lyrical truths of theirs into dense yet flowing walls of sound, and while the expression is certainly painful, it also achieves a soothing quality by enchanting the listener to take part in the catharsis that lies within.
The above is musically achieved through downtempo, atmopheric post-rock, starting with the brooding piece “Refused Recounting Words”, where vocalist Alberto Brunello belts out the most despairing screams, fittingly accompanied by a doom-ish riff. Equally important is the band’s ability to tone down all that’s violent, reaching a calm mid-song – as if diving into depression, only to rise up again with fiery misery. The harsh and the subtle meld into each other with satisfying ease, making this song a perfect opener for the album.
Above you can hear Track 2, titled “Achieving the Unavoidable”, which is perhaps my favorite song off “The Shipwreck“. It is fantastically musically layered, the harsh bellows and riffs colliding with clean, melodic guitars, and the combination is simply sublime. The lyrics I previously quoted are from this song, and they succeed because they reach out to an abstract meaning of pain that can be universally identified with. I mention this creative approach because it is left out on later tracks like “Abandoned Among Echoes” and takes away from them.
The lyrical issue is minor however, as Whales and Aurora‘s music, just by itself, is brilliantly expressive in tone and atmosphere. Three of the seven songs on the album are actually instrumentals that separate the track list, helping to set the mood and accentuate the album’s existential theme. “The Shipwreck” will drown you in it all, from the initial burst of angst(“Refused Recounting Words“) to the finding of awareness through emptiness(“A New Awareness“) , until finally reaching self-acceptance(“Floating On Calm Waters”). Oh, and you’ll like it!