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  How Comes the Constellations Shine  
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How Comes the Constellations Shine (sic -- yes, that really is the name, odd plurals and all) is a Portuguese post-rock band that sent us a promo last year of their debut LP, Belongs To Mafra. That was an okay record. It didn't really stand out to me. Maybe that is because we get a lot of post-rock records, and when you are inundated with any one type of thing most of it tends to blur together. I mean, how many reviews can i write that compare a band to Mogwai, Godspeed, or Explosions in the Sky? Even i am sick of those kinds of reviews.

So we get a lot of post-rock, but only the really exceptional stuff gets mentioned here. HCTCS previous release did not make the cut, but Mémoire is entirely different. It seems to be a far stronger release than their debut. Why is that? Well, when i look at the press release i see that the band has been through some lineup issues. The debut LP was recorded by one guy (Gonçalo Pereira), who made it after shedding the rest of a band. That band, perhaps with revolving members, recorded 200 songs between 2006 and 2010, which Pereira set aside like he sets aside bandmates when he focused on the debut solo LP. Now he has gone back through that massive body of work and culled out the top 5% (10 songs out of 200), which is brutal quality control, but effective in this case.

The album ebbs and flows in a standard post-rock trope, but there are moments that stand out as really beautiful.

Specifically i want to talk about Shattered Glass. The drumming here! My god, the drumming. A piano tinkles, one guitar layer chugs, one whines, and someone beats, i mean REALLY beats, some kind of big drum. Just a steady loud thunk that forms the rhythm layer of the song, but it is in the front, all of the melody revolving around that steady thunk-thunk-thunk. Eventually the guitars become overdriven in an attempt to overpower the beat, but all that does is make the bass part of the hit more noticeable, pushing that beat down into the level where it grabs you in the sternum. Damn. Just, damn. The layers of noise and that unstoppable beat. Wonderfully done.

That is a stunning moment, but there are plenty of other things to like here. On Motherfucker the guitars build to a nice cacophony that almost reminds me of SIANspheric. This song gets dense, heavy, and dark. Very nice.

On Alaska Pereira does a really good Explosions in the Sky impression. And i would be remiss if i did not mention the oddly named She’s Blonde And She Says Uau A Lot. I am not sure what that is supposed to mean, but the drumming here is a lethargic brushed jazz beat, and the guitar really sparkles slowly. It's really pretty.

Overall, this is an interesting record. I have enjoyed it tremendously.

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