I’ll begin with both a disclaimer and an apology: I don’t know much about Decoder Ring. If this review is in any way simplistic, ignorant or lacking in background details, then you know why.
In saying that, just because my knowledge is lacking, doesn’t mean my interest is also. The first single, Let a Thousand Flowers Bloom, garnered my interest in the new release immediately. Epic, inspiring, energetic, and extremely easy on the ears, the song is captivating. Adjectives like these come to mind through They Blind the Stars, And the Wild Team’s entirety.
With its dreamlike delivery, this double album could very well be one complete track. Each song moves into the next without pause or hesitation. Like the waves of the unconscious state, it weaves through peaceful lulls and more intense climaxes, through the use of carefully chosen instrumentation. This is comatose post-rock, music inspired by other levels of consciousness, mimicking and re-articulating journeys to other – mysterious – planes of being.
What struck me most about They Blind the Stars…, was its ease of delivery. With no vocals, no traditional song structure, and seemingly no choruses, it’s a remarkably easy listen. The music invites the listener, makes them comfortable from its very first track – the instantly climaxing Beat the Twilight. From this initial point, the listener travels through quiet, catatonic soundscapes, sinking further away from conscious reality with reassuring and familiar xylophonic sounds, gentle beats and orchestral synths. This comfort moves at times towards stronger, chunkier guitars and intense moments of pure noise rock, resulting in an always constant fluidity and throughout it all is a contagious energy. The music – despite the jolts in and out of dreamful bliss – is doused in hope.
They Blind the Stars… has immense depth to it, which I don’t think I’ve fully discovered. It’s a strong release, demonstrating Decoder Ring stand on their own in the Australian music landscape. Having taken four years between releases, this is a band which is dedicated to aural exploration and expansion. In an environment which rewards instant hits and shallow, uncredited homage, it’s always inspiring to hear the work of those who have their own unaffected visions, and see them recognised for it. No doubt, They Blind The Stars… will earn Decoder Ring more deserved critical acclaim.