Fjord Rowboat is a band that takes the word “wall of sound” to a whole new level with element
s of dream pop and shoegaze fused together to create lofty aural scenes in their most album, Under Cover of Brightness. Granted, dream pop and shoegaze have a lot in common (mostly that dream pop was a direct influence on shoegaze), but there is much more alternating and mixing between dream pop’s docile nature and shoegaze’s more aggressive yet equally atmospheric tendencies with this band than is traditionally the case.
For example, Under Cover of Brightness has a sound that is raucous and aggressive, but is at the same time calming with an ethereal nature to it. Some songs are more aggressive, some are more calming, and some songs, such as the first track “Even You Out,” alternate between both or meld them together into one complex structure.
This contrast in mood stems in part from the guitars that continuously echo over each other in layers as both an ever present, distorted hum and as the rapid, gentle plucks of the guitar strings. Two songs that seem to contrast each other the most in this regard follow one right after the other: “The Other Side of a Dream” and “Cottonwood Glacier.” Whereas the former track has guitars that fiercely grind and growl, the latter one has a sound as if the wind is gently playing the higher notes of the guitar as it blows across the strings. In fact, the very beginning of “Cottonwood Glacier” almost reminds me of the beginning of “Maps” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The one thing that really stands on Under Cover of Brightness from the very beginning of the album is the sheer amount of reverb used. I guess that’s one of the key elements of making atmospheric rock with that epic wall of sound quality to it. But the reverb especially stands out in the lead singer’s vocals, not to say that it’s a bad thing. In fact, the echoing of the lead singer’s voice combined with the fact that it often sounds he’s calling out with great emotional power from a distance mixed with the towering wall of instrumentation puts the image in my head of the band playing in the clouds. And I’m not talking about those big billowy clouds that completely obscure the sky. I’m talking about a hazy mist of clouds that still allows the sun and the blue of the sky to shine through. So as I listen to Fjord Rowboat, I picture their music echoing and soaring through the sky as they play it, floating high up in the misty blue. And much like the clouds, their music has a certain haze to it, but it isn’t an impenetrable mass of noise of chaos that prevents you from seeing the clear beauty behind it. No, the haze has a beauty all of its own.
Speaking of skies and such, enough of me blowing the hot air. Just do yourself a favor and listen to Fjord Rowboat. Their a great band with a hard rocking, ambient sound that are most definitely worth a listen if not a lot of listens.