Here’s the debut album from Wellington duo Into Orbit. Paul Stewart on guitars and Ian Moir on drums. And I guess you’d call them post-rock for this plays into – and around – those sorts of tropes, if you like Russian Circles or Jakob or ISIS or Kerretta or so many of the others then you will find something here for sure. But this is also more overtly shaped by metal and prog-rock – and what’s important to me in this is that given it’s a duo it’s so much clearer to hear this as action/reaction – a dialogue, a conversation.
The circular swirl and wily weave of the guitar linesis kept within the lines by drumming that acts as the only parameters – grid-lock, the pulse of each piece is framed up, measured by Moir. Then Stewart layers the broken-off/beaten-up shards of song slivers into that square shape. His round pegs sit nicely, Moir filling in the space when needed.
Opener, Corrridors…Caverns is an album in itself, at nine minutes it’s less a song than an actual mission-statement, business card for the band. The guitar intro conjures anything and everything from Tool to early Genesis, the vital Metallica and just a hint of blues – it’s slowly, purposely moving in the soundtrack/soundscape/post-rock world until Moir’s foot comes down – he’s marking the area, drawing the line and then spills of drum-fills are flooded over with scribbled guitar – it’s the super-urgent version of My Bloody Valentine.
As the song breaks up midway through – instantly becoming something stricter, a bossa-like pulse marking out a new framework there are hints of the work Jeff Boyle of Jakob has created with Rhian Sheehan before the math-rock angle is explored.
That’s just the first song.
Set Adrift has a soft gallop of drums sitting under the guitar – the sizzle of the cymbals slowly, purposefully building – until it all falls away. And only the guitar stands. Proud, rebuilding…then the drums come back in, they’re dancing for themselves/by themselves as an ethereal melody seeps in and through, then the jagged cutting of a riff.
Holy shit this is good. Such sweet intensity.
Just as you feel you need a breather Aphelion arrives, possibly the only throwaway moment on the album, a light punch-drunk shimmer and shuffle – but perfectly placed as interlude, necessary.
The title track has the murky moments within Mike Oldfield’s album-length early projects recast as post-rock, sure he was (in some sense) one of the antecedents of the genre but this explodes in a fury, the way Oldfield’s music never did.
Perihelion – the ppint in the orbit of a planet where it is nearest to the sun – is next. And that’s the journey we’re on, the big lifting from boom-bap drums, the guitar still showing glimmers of metal but walking away on its own, and down the odd blues alley too. Then the surge arrives and it’s almost as if the drums and guitar have met up down one of those alleys for a bit of a friendly tussle.
The closing track, Creeping Vines, is the perfect – spectral – way for this album to end. Just seven tracks, all-instrumental, but across 42 minutes you live in the world that Into Orbit has created.
I’m moved by this album. It’s huge – and yet, always, you hear and feel that it started off so small, just two people. And they’re utterly convinced of the powers they can summon. And they’ve knocked it out of the park here. And this feels like a very special summit.
When I saw this band live I wasn’t sure their sound – their ethos, their world – would translate to the recording. But it does. So buy the album. And then go see them live.