The Stalactites are a three-piece “virtual post-rock” band whose members live in different countries throughout Europe, record their parts separately, and then collaborate on combining their talents into one cohesive sound. Their latest LP Dark Matters, coming after 2009’s From the Highest Mountain, is a refreshing blend of ambient atmospherics with a bent towards classical instrumentation. Made up of Johnny Benoit (guitar), Rudy Helio (guitar, piano, programming), and violinist Sopie Hebbelynck, the album creates richly instrumental soundscapes that specialize in subtle dynamics over pummeling intensity. The songs change slowly and without a lot of fanfare; this isn’t the slow build of post-rock bands like Explosions in the Sky or Mogwai, but where The Stalactites lacks in raw ferocity, they more than make up for in meticulous songwriting. Songs like “Reentry”, with its gorgeous violin plucking, jazzy drumming, and ambient guitar lines, sound like the perfect soundtrack to the ending of an indie film, while “Nova” comes off like groove-led band The Mercury Program, only breezier. Perhaps most successful is a tune like “Spirals”, which gives off an eerie sensation, almost like gliding through a fog-drenched forest of swirling noises, shoegazey guitar, and airy drums. Dark Matters achieves this kind of tension throughout it’s 40-minute running time, handling detuned guitar chugging and progressive drum fills with passages of classical piano and soaring violin without straining for effect. The album won’t be for everyone, and even though what the band is doing inevitably falls under the “post-rock” tag, the implementation of classical elements into this type of sound really gives The Stalactites a distinct personality all their own.
“Paranoid Bones” by The Stalactites
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