Today’s Soundtrack: He who films the clouds pt.2 by maybeshewill
I have a terrible habit of being late for things I love.
As some of you may know, maybeshewill held their first and last American concert in New York last April. It was truly an ambitious and fittingly grand end to a decade long career of post-rock magic.
But this review will not be about their final album, Fair Youth. That is for another time.
This review is a mostly personal reflection on this band, my optimistic days in college, and how I first came across this hidden gem.
Ixnay on the Autoplay
How I first came across maybeshewill
As much as I would like to start by saying that I came across this band at an indie music store hidden in the streets of San Diego or a Student Co-op that just so happened to play a song randomly selected via Pandora, the first very first time I heard a song from maybeshewill was through this video:
I really wanted to learn how to paint with watercolors.
While I still struggle with painting with natural media of all sorts (digital media helped both remedy my anxiety over painting at the same time coddled me with the freedom of using the undo command liberally which also worsened my confidence in handling the unpredictability of using natural media…but I digress), I fell in love with the world of maybeshewill.
Not for the want of trying became my first foray into the world of post-rock, a strange, weird, wonderful hybrid world of sounds ranging from the loud, vicarious blasts of electricity coupled with the fluidity of a string, piano, and other generally symphonic instrumentals to the quiet lull of cooing vocals.
The unpredictable mish-mash of different sounds and vibes works to maybshewill’s benefits, faults, and legacy.
I’m in Awe Amadeus!
I am still nostalgic from this album
So strong after all these years
maybeshewill’s evolution as a band can be evident throughout their albums. In the case of Not for the want of trying, samplings from different media (namely films) are accompanied by various instrumentals which greatly harnesses and exacerbates the emotional soundscapes of the samples.
For instance, in the namesake song Not for the want of trying, there is anger, rage, a furious indignation that begins with a blast and continues in spikes in between brief moments that barely let you catch your breath before hurtling you at breakneck speed.
Upon first listening to this furious song, I admit that I jumped at the first chord as it had followed the powerful, moving song He who films the clouds, pt. 2; the experience was akin to someone lighting a firecracker after one had just listened to the inspirational speech (“Oh look up Hannah”) from Charlie Chaplin’s The Great Dictator.
Or something like that.
But as I continued to listen, then came the “I’m as mad as hell” speech from The Network. It comes gradually like an eye in the storm. But the eye serves as a stark reminder that, though the moment seems mellow, there is still a quiet tension and in anticipation for the rest of the storm to follow.
This is where the sampling and the instrumentals work in perfect harmony to create an emotional soundscape that captures the element of justifiable rage inherent in this song, spoken through the words of Peter Finch in his memorable role in a movie most people now remember just for that speech which remains as relevant than as it is today.
Like Not for the want of trying, another strong song from this album features powerful spoken words but these do not originate from a film, He who films the clouds, pt.1 is ode that fills one with hope and inspiration.
“Now we’re apart,”
“Though not through choice”
“Do we stand still?”
“Or raise our voice?”
As enigmatic as this message is, it is very much open to interpretation. I personally like to interpret this as a call to action for a common purpose in complete unity with our fellow human beings.
But it could be something simpler like, persay, coming together to make up after a nasty breakup or meeting up for Dollar Tuesdays at Baskin Robbins.
The call is evident. Will you answer?
maybeshewill’s ability to capture emotional resonances is evident throughout each song, with or without samples alike.
From the painful heartache of Heartflusters to the endearing feeling of hope in He who films the clouds, pt.2, each song has a vividly clear feeling that can be felt and, if the mood is right, experienced.
Not for the want of Trying
While each song is different, sometimes the sounds melts into the other and it becomes a chorus of screams.
I cannot say the album isn’t perfect.
Nothing is perfect.
However, my critical points are limited solely to just a single personal gripe: with a few exceptions, it can be very LOUD.
Not for the want of trying was all about loudness because rage is best experienced when it is screaming in your ears with all the might and force of everything that rage is capable of.
When you listen to an album many times, you being to notice a pattern: calm moments are punctuated by spikes in excitement. It can be disconcerting at times, especially when a song begins with a blast.
Thankfully, there are some songs that break this pattern by either avoiding it altogether and remaining a simple, soothing lullaby or becoming a loud,bombastic cry. Either way, they both make the album a vibrant, diverse collection.
He who films the clouds pt.2
A toast to you, good gentlemen.
May there be fine wine and precious moments flowing in your future.
A perfectly, imperfect album bursting with emotional ups and downs, Not for the want of trying remains a memorable, lasting collection to me and, hopefully, to many others entering the post-rock foray.
Stay tuned, good readers, for next week’s review of maybeshewill’s I was here for a moment and then I was gone.