This may be the debut album from Dublin’s instrumental outfit Refraction but they have been in existence since 2007, and since that time have been stoutly threatening to deliver a work of deft, august scale. After various demo recordings on myspace and the like, and some strong live showings, that threat has very much become a staggering reality. That reality is this self titled effort.
Refraction is drenched with dizzying peaks and troughs and many, many neck craning crescendos. Divided into six “phases”, the six tracks are each offering its own unique climax. However, there is still a vibe and theme maintained throughout that creates some fluency so never once does the record sound disjointed.
Light Fades comes avalanching in with a pulsating intro and Into Nothing is heaving with lush riffing which culminates in an unfathomably vast climax. It’s then followed by the absurdly infectious opening of Until We Reach, and once again scales an unruly and crushing height. The first three tracks of this album lay down an almighty gauntlet and the subsequent “phases” uphold, with ease, the soaring vibe.
Throughout Refraction, there are serene reprieves interspersed, mellowed and cerebral passages that act merely as breathers until the next melee of riffs and obdurate drumming encroach. The duality of the two elements, the serene and severe, is the album’s greatest strength.
The production is crucial here to its delivery. It’s expansive and spacious and the clarity of each instrument is more than testament to this and gives the layered sound the justice it deserves. As a result, there’s a foreboding aura for Refraction’s entirety.
It’s heard with Mortal’s lead guitar work, which, succeeding the broody bass is stunning. The smooth leads weave grippingly through each other and the striking fret work continues into Diaspora, beginning with ominous walls of sound only to fizzle away to a sombre, swirling refrain that gracefully dies out, thus bringing an end to the record. Once again, Diaspora’s uncoiling is a solemn respite that allows the entire record to soak in, as silence approaches.
It could very well have been taken for granted that Refraction would drop an impressive album but nothing quite like this, a blissfully effusive record, and a debut no less.
Thanks Jandek. We will, inevitably, get around to doing dates across the Country to promote the album, Cork is first on the list - but truth be told, our gear is fucked, so the priority is generating enough funds to sort that out before we do anything. Last time we played Cork was Fredz a few months ago with Murdock and the 'Face. Good times/Blank memories
Instrumental Dublin four-piece Refraction have just released their self-titled debut through Big Cartel, and reminds me of a vocal-less Alcest. The six songs on the record are nicely textured, and shows that the band were right to work out all the kinks and nuances for the past four years before finally getting around to releasing this polished debut.
The songs themselves are long ones, amounting to 45 minutes total for just six tracks. That said, the album has a cohesive flow from start to finish which makes this all one drawn-out post-metal suite rather than a collection of trashing metal tunes. The song structures are elaborate, and seem almost build for expansion in a live setting. The guitar lines here are smooth and fully audible, with the rhythm section (particularly the bass) keeping things under control, and guiding it all along.
As I said earlier, it’s more a complete work than individual tracks, so it’s hard to highlight where Refraction succeed and fail. ‘Light Fades’, ‘Until We Reach’, and ‘Into Nothing’ contain the best sections, the most urgent, the most melodic pieces, but unfortunately the album is let down by a lack of variety. Technically superb, it just isn’t diverse enough. There needs to be more emphasis on individual songcraft rather than overall soundscapes if Refraction really want to make a great album. That said, what’s here is pretty decent.