Explosions in the Sky @ The Dome, Brighton 24.04.16

US post-rock originators playing one of their biggest UK shows to date possibly lose a little of their magic in the process

Apr 24th, 2016 at The Dome, Brighton / By Norman Miller
Explosions in the Sky @ The Dome, Brighton 24.04.16 It's been a few years since Texan post-rock giants Explosions In The Sky last hit Brighton, and clearly on the fan base front the band have gone up several gears by easily filling a venue probably five times bigger than before.

They've also, of course, got some long-awaited new material to give us, courtesy of newly-released album The Wilderness – their first since 2011's Take Care, Take Care, Take Care. And in place of the band's earlier template of whisper-to-megaton 10-minute “cathartic mini-symphonies” the new album finds them offering shorter and more subtle tracks, with a sprinkling of delicate guitar vignettes that would work fine as old lute music.

The new album provides definite highlights in the shape of ‘Tangle Formations’, ‘Disintergration Anxiety’ and ‘Logic Of A Dream’, with a judicious sprinkling of tracks from their earlier – and for me, better – albums. But as the set goes on towards its 90-minute plus conclusion, I can't stop thinking that for a band fronted by four technically brilliant guitarists, it's bizarre that the most interesting sounds coming from the stage are from drummer Chris Hrasky, dropping in marching beats here, ear-catching percussive forays there.

It isn't that individually any of the numbers - segueing into each other without a word from the stage - are bad. They just start to meld into an indistinguishable mash-up of repeating elements that gradually lose their power to impress. The first of several guitar thrashes gets the pulses quickening - but by the time the third one comes around indistinguishable from the first it all seems a bit too auto-pilot. Ditto most of "the quiet bits".

Occasionally something comes from the stage that sounds like the band are actually trying to push some of their own boundaries, but after a while the music seems upstaged by the impressive light show.

It's as if the move up to bigger venues and more expansive sets has led to a dilution of the magnificent intensity that made their considerably shorter previous UK shows truly shine a few years back. Sometimes less really is more.