The album ‘Old Haunts’ from Hobart instrumental band follow is a stunning debut.
I have written before about the brilliant stream of artists flowing from the tiny island at the edge of the world. Tasmania – the land of wild and terrifyingly beautiful terrain and Antarctic-influenced climes seems to imbue the bands that arise from there with a certain glacial edge that permeates the music.
Think of the shimmering sounds of Martin Kennedy/All India Radio, EWAH and the Vision of Paradise, A. Swayze and the Ghosts and Verticoli, and the story telling veracity of Christopher Coleman, Caelo and Ben Salter to name but a few examples. Both branches exhibit an innate ability to reflect their environment and the landscapes where they blossom. follow come from the former branch – airy and billowing ambient music – but as an instrumental band, their force and expression derive solely from their instruments which create an eloquent and vivid journey through sounds.
Indeed, there is something about the sound of follow that is glacial and celestial: like the night skies above their home town of nipaluna/Hobart with a panoply of glittering stars at the often frozen southern edge of the world. Their new album ‘Old Haunts’ is quite simply put magnificent. It is a collection of instrumentals that carve out a trail of jangling guitars and synths over relentless rhythms like a brilliant array of constellations and shooting stars.
follow have a sound that amalgamates the heady rush of Mogwai with the more spiritual, ethereal elements of Sigur Rós, and, in doing so, have created a body of work so far that is breathtakingly beautiful and poised.
Opening track ‘Glimmer’ does what it says on the label: a floating, spacious track that sparkles and shimmers like the aurora australis.
An arpeggiated circular guitar provides a bed for the crystalline guitar riff as a driving rhythm surfaces from the depths. The track moves in revolving sections that ebbs and flows, building up and receding like the cold Antarctica seas off the coast of Tasmania with an uplifting swell.
The band says of the track:
Glimmer was born from an old GarageBand demo from Nick. It ended up being one of the more collaborative and rewarding tracks to put together. We wanted to explore the more up-beat side of what post-rock music can be, and combine simple guitar melodies with weird loops, and build it to a brief moment of reveling. An ode to fleeting moments of joy, and the little wins that keep us going.
The accompanying video is a gorgeous collection of the band’s personal cat videos – what could be a more perfect visual for a sound track that will get you purring with contentment?
‘Sentimental Health’ sparkles and burns with an intensity that seems to take its sharp edges from the mountainous hinterlands and its crystalline chill from the winds that blow in from the south. As an instrumental, it speaks wordlessly of celestial spheres circling in the ether – the guitars are reverbed and delayed, etching curves in the sky, while a relentless rhythm pounds underneath the surface like waves rolling in from the sea. A bed of synths creates a gentle wash over the whole sonic canvas.
Like a spring day in Hobart, the gentle flow is momentarily interrupted by an intrusive blast – rippling guitars like an aquatic flow precede a storm: thundering rainclouds and gale force winds create a moment of dysplasia, of discombobulation, before the world quietens down again and drifts away in a glittering reverie.
This is tremendous stuff: ambient and cinematic.
The accompanying video is a collection of home grown clips of the band members growing up: creating a sense of warmth and camaraderie:
‘Low Curse’ adds a steely barbed wire spine to the music – a resplendent shoegaze track that thunders like the wild surf off the west coast of the island. It’s a seven minute epic journey into the sonic wilderness, ebbing and flowing with a burning intensity.
Both ‘Cold Hands’ and The Climb’ return to the more restrained shimmering sounds featuring the brittle crystal guitars that eloquently speak in mesmerising poetic cycles. ‘The Climb’ does ascend to a thunderous finale that echoes and rings inside the head with heavy metal guitars chugging away like waves to the shore. Lucas Walker from local band Knifehands contributes to the mountainous guitars shredding on this track (as well as being the creative genius behind the artwork for the album).
Penultimate track ‘Any Small Thing That Can Save You’ is a dreamy, reflective breather after the preceding storm and carves out a dramatic sonic landscape.
Final track ‘Fields of Gray’ is another seven minute transformative journey and features the vocals of Tyler Richardson and Patrick Marshall from fellow Taswegian legends, Lucas Brasi, adding a distant chorus. Marshall also adds guitar to the mix.
‘Old Haunts’ is out on Friday, 26 May 2023 through the magnificent False Peak Records and will be available through all the usual download and streaming sites and through the link below.
Feature Photograph: Michael Rankine
Written and performed by follow
Engineered and mixed by Thomas Busby
Additional engineering by Nic White and Patrick Marshall
Mastered by Donovan MIller
Art layout by Lucas Walker
Photography by Ali Davis and Michael Rankine
Additional guitar on The Climb by Lucas Walker
Additional guitar on Fields of Gray by Patrick Marshall
Vocals on Fields of Gray by Patrick Marshall and Tyler Richardson
Feature Photograph: Michael Rankine