With "Big Group Hug" (2001), "I can do nice" (2004) and "The Middle Ages" (2006), after a five years hiatus, they are now releasing a fourth album.
But in a really strange way, "Exitudes" is much more the follow-up to "I can do nice" than the continuity of "The Middle Ages". Their two first albums have had a strong impact on me but the first one disappointed me totally as they were moving towards a definitely mainstream approach. Here they are one hundred percent back to their old ethics and I'm back too as a fan.
An it is indeed a rebirth as it seems the process of recording "Exitudes" hasn't be a easy one. But the result is pure and implacable, definitely their most melancholic release so far, with depth, nuances, vivacity and slowness. It's a dream coming true, a band I enjoyed but finally discarded back at his best with a faultless amazing album which confirms them as heirs of artists like Bark Psychosis, Hood, Idaho or Talk Talk.
Dense, minimal, monochromatic, "Exitudes" request a certain focus and sounds like a last chance, but at the same time, if there is doubts behind the process, it looks like they never have been so close of their identity and never as necessary as here.
As a paradox, "Exitudes" has been created as a reaction towards the failure to realize it's polar opposite, as at first, next to a TV ad using one of their songs, Jim Lawler and Ben Rawlins decided to try to develop a more commercial sound in the continuity of "The Middle Ages", spending a lot of time in studio. Having to deal with a growing feeling of disillusion towards this approach, echoed with the start of an economic crisis in Ireland, the appearing urge for sense and essential, make them drop one year of recorded material and they restarted from scratch what is now "Exitudes",
The birds skull gives an idea of the mourning atmosphere of "Exitudes", but far from falling into a self-pitying attitude, this album is driven by strong undercurrents expressed by a constant balance between slowness and tension, creating a reflexive and haunting climate, achieved to a higher degree than on their previous albums. Though the styles diverge, it reminds me of the kind of global impression I had about the album "41" by Swell.
Even more, most of these tracks have an inexhaustible depth and quality, which will make every return to this album valuable, turning it into a classic slowcore album.
It opens with the wind propelled and tormented "Billion Hands" and its urgent underneath rhythmic piano punctuations, before falling into the lamentations hymn which is "Carousel" reminding me of some Blackheart Procession songs.
The old trademark of Saso, circa "I can do nice" / "Big Group Hug"is intact on the clever and aerial "From Limbo", one of the strong highlights of this album, which brings you deeper and deeper into crystalline waters. If there is a potential single on this album, it's "Secret Ministry", wide and vibrant, delightful.
The atmospheric and very quiet instrumental "Silent Earth" marks a welcome pause before a return to fever and rebirth with an ode to spring which marks the decline of winter signs. You could have expected some return to their past bucolic & pastoral intonation - remember their utterly sublime "Turn Your Back" on "My Brain Hurts" EP, but it's (still) not for this track.
On "Man Overboard" emotions arise again bringing some warmth through the night, creating poignancy. Finally we are there, barefoot on the the ground for the sublimated pastoralism of "Facts", the ride, the acoustic guitar lines and the swirls of melancholy. Saso is 100% there on "Exitudes" and "Facts" is a feat.
It is followed by the darkest and most disturbing composition of the album, "Cardboard Cutout", followed by a more appeased, very quiet and monotonous "Soon or later", before the instrumental epilogue "Pull the plug", a trio of tracks as a landing.
http://saso.ie/ Exitudes by saso band