Even though some journos think that adding or changing band members doesn’t make any difference as the music will still sound the same (ask Robert Smith about that and if he doesn’t call you ‘Wankers’, you’ll be lucky), the obvious truth is that things change, normally for the better. Especially if you add skilful members to the line-up.
This is the case with Irish post-rockers God Is An Astronaut. Not that their music sounded bland and flat before but, step-by-step, they have added some new band members that help fill the gaps their music used to have. The lads now have a new record out, Origins, which keeps their usual high level of quality but with some differences to previous efforts. And those differences were easily perceived in their recent visit to Amsterdam’s Melkweg on Thursday, September 26th.
Two of the new songs, “Weightless” and “Transmissions”, opened the set and then we could start seeing the new features of the band: Their post-rock-ish mix of elements is now richer with sounds and manners that reminds either of the less classic Mogwai (QRO live review), Holy Fuck (QRO live review), a bit less Krautrock, a bit more Notwist (QRO album review), and a special emphasis on the space-rock aspect.
Also, their formula still varies depending on the tracks they play: Old songs like “Forever Lost” benefit from the five-member line-up in the sense that they’re more poignant and intense than before; other classics like “Fireflies and Empty Skies” or the last one they played “Route 666” go way beyond and become angrier and blunter; and new tunes, like the supposedly based on the Pet Shop Boys “Red Moon Lagoon” (nobody on the entire ballroom believed that!) seemed like a guitarrorist attack compared to its studio version.
All in all, God Is an Astronaut still own the title of “One of the best instrumental bands in the world.” Inside their so-called niche, post-rock, they show LP after LP and tour after tour that labels are way too small for them, not for the labels themselves but because of the variety of their songs. The Notwist bit before comes from that some of the songs now start one way, but it’s a bit difficult to know how they will end, as they arise again once it seems there’s no other way to go.
That makes a difference and really satisfies their audience, who still are amazed some critic, according to guitarist Torsten Kinsella, accused them of playing elevator music… The things you have to hear in a rock gig, really.