When I heard that Red Sparowes members Emma Ruth Rundle, Greg Burns, and Dave Clifford were releasing a new album under the name Marriages, I was pretty stoked. I kind of warmed up to the whole post-rock thing late, so I missed ISIS, and I’m still playing catch up with lots of other bands, but I do have a couple Sparowes albums, and I even got to see them tour with Caspian, so I figured I was treading on familiar territory. However, I found that Marriages debut EP, “Kitsune,” is full of contradictions.
First and foremost, “Kitsune” sounds like Red Sparowes. And it doesn’t.
Like Red Sparowes, Marriages doesn’t merely play music; they are painting musical landscapes here. Right from “Ride in My Place,” the first track, the guitar echoes over the drums and bass, sounding a little like something from a Morricone score and feeling a little like a hot breeze moving across the desert: It’s harsh, but it’s beautiful. And forgive me if I’m waxing a little too metaphorical here, but if the guitar is the breeze, then the bass and the drums are the desert itself. They are solid, vast things, expanding across the boundaries between songs, making the entire album seem like once long piece.
However, and this is the biggest point of divergence between Red Sparowes and Marriages, “Kitsune” features vocals on almost every song. Post-rock purists may find this unsettling, as the vocals are fairly prominent, but Emma Ruth Rundle’s voice is more of an instrument than something that is conveying a message. In fact, at times, such as the second half of “Part the Dark Again,” Marriages sound a bit like a heavy Sigur Rós: loud, yet ethereal at the same time.
With 6 tracks clocking in at 25 minutes, one would think that “Kitsune” would feel short, but because the tracks blend together, it feels kind of like one post-rock symphony rather than a collection of songs. It’s just another contradiction from a band that seems hell-bent on defying expectations.