Monday, December 26, 2011

*shels' Plains of the Purple Buffalo

The second best album of 2011.  

It should be known that the last time my #1 and #2 albums of the year would've been post-rock records, had I been making these lists, was 2000. That would have been Godspeed You! Black Emperor's Lift Your Skinny Fists Like Antennas to Heaven and A Silver Mt. Zion's He Has Left Us Alone but Shafts of Light Sometimes Grace the Corner of Our Rooms… The first being a contender for the greatest album of all time and the second being a top 10 album of all time. My #1 and #2 this year aren't close to that caliber, but they're absolutely excellent albums.

Plains of the Purple Buffalo is a massive, mind-altering, journey that shows how far post-rock/metal can branch off if artists are willing to venture past the confines of the conventional second wave post-rock rut. This album isn't characterized or limited by a single formula. It's melodic, it's intense, it's beautiful, it's soft, it's heavy, it's aggressive, it's enthralling, and it succeeds brilliantly in painting a picture much like the album title and cover art suggest. I probably shouldn't juxtapose with Alcest, but the sound of this album gives the impression it was an "inspiration," much in the same sense Neige claimed Écailles De Lune was an inspiration he acquired after experiencing in a dream a vision of a world where music was ethereal and sounded nothing like the music of our world. But this album does give off some of that ethereal ambiance vibe we got with Écailles De Lune, but in a very different way. One way, of which I'm sure, is the brass. Beautiful brass segments are woven in amongst some of the tracks, as are choral arrangements, both of which result in brilliant atmospherics. One might call this record "easy listening." It's like the air conditioning inside your house that greets you after you've been out in the hundred degree heat all day. "Searching For Zihuatanejo," "Vision Quest," and "Butterflies on Lucy's Way," three of the best tracks on the album, are completely therapeutic. While that's true for a lot of this album, it's not true for all of it though. Some parts of this record are just downright difficult to listen to. One example being the opening track, "Journey to the Plains." Others being (parts of) "Crown of Eagle Feathers" and "Bastien's Angels." All are considerably heavy for post-rock songs. 

Plains of the Purple Buffalo on clear purple vinyl, spinning
on my turntable

Few records can remain captivating and stimulating for a complete 75 minutes. Every track here has something different to offer... something different than the track before it or after it. This album is a journey across a land very different than our own. 

HIGHLIGHTS: "Plains of the Purple Buffalo - Part 2," "Searching For Zihuatanejo," "Vision Quest," "Butterflies on Lucy's Way,"

Originally written for my 2011 End-of-Year List on

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