One of the trends i am liking in music is the growth of post-rock, wherein song structures have become so stretched out that they have moved beyond the realm of "pop music" and into the realm of classical music. The Rustle of the Stars is another album that walks along this border. Richard Knox is the guitarist in Glissando, while Frédéric D. Oberland is in a like-minded Parisian act called FareWell Poetry. The Rustle of the Stars is a collaboration that came about when the two musicians were on tour together, and it marries the sound and philosophy of the two acts.
However, before i move on, one thing sort of bothers me after i look through the liner notes to this record. The music is not made by a duo: there are some collaborators, like choir, etc. That's all fine and well, but there is a third musician credited with the music, and not just as a guest musician. This is cellist/violinist/vocalist Angela Chan, who has recorded with both Glissando and FareWell Poetry before. Looking at the liner notes, it seems as if she was a full collaborator in this music, and yet her name is not on the spine. Why? The cello and violin are very important parts of what is going on here. This seems very odd to me, but whatever.
The music consists, mostly, of slowly tinkling piano, effected guitar, strings, and strange electronic flourishes. The songs move along at an unhurried pace, developing slowly.
The record begins with a hazy layer of sawing strings moving slowly in Sleeping Land (pt I). eventually some oohing female chorus vocals and radio samples and radio samples are layered in, making this tune feel like a mellower GYBE song. An auspicious start.
Mist is a harsher sound, the drones almost industrial in nature, grating against one another almost angrily. Drawing Lines to the End of the World mixes is up yet again, building up the song from sparse guitar notes and a chugging sound like a sample of running water.
Le Passage du Nord-Ouest slows it down a bit and moves to piano. Eventually the drone settles down with Oberland playing a syncopated piano part along Knox's guitar, which is buried under a lot of tremolo. This song sounds remarkably like the latest Guthrie/Budd collaboration.
Ms. Chan seems to lead Sea of Bones, as the cello saws away and the piano plinks sparse notes while the guitar chimes lightly. This is a pretty tune.
A Divide is a short interlude that hearkens back to Mist, only here scattered piano notes are strewn over the grating drone, like Keith Jarrett on a Skinny Puppy record. It is over in just about two minutes, which is actually too soon for my tastes.
The sound of a movie projector starts The Wreck of Hope, which features some nice pianowork and slow guitar drone. But it is the strings that shine here, kicking in at about four minutes and dominating the song until the end five and a half minutes later: strings sawing away, then receding, then coming back to the front. Ms. Chan and her cohorts did a fine job here.
Finally we wrap the record up with Sleeping Land (pt II) which takes the drone from the first track and allows the strings to riff over it.
Overall, i am pleased with this release. There is a lot going on here, and it is not purely ambient like a lot of this kind of music is. Knox and Oberland bring some of the darkness inherent in post-rock back into the picture here, and i appreciate that. I am sure that it will not be to everyone's liking, however.