Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Tides From Nebula - Earthshine [2011]

Once your band made a debut and got some attention, the biggest challenge is writing a second album. Especially now, that we are in constant hunger of new music – lots of people will give up on following you if they didn’t like 2nd album. What can you do then? Create something very similar and risk boring the listeners or continue a revolutionary road and risk losing them? The more popular you become, the harder dilemma gets.

Tides From Nebula are surely unbelievably lucky – soon after their first birthday they won a main prize on prestigious Asymmetry Festival, followed by audience prize, stunning record debut Aura and a number of tours with much older famous bands. Being everywhere and praised by everyone they created quite a fashion for instrumental music in Poland and got some attention abroad as well.

Earthshine as a second act has been expected really anxiously for a whole 2010, but got a little postponed due to problems with record company. Yet the band played new songs all the time raising even more excitement. Finally, in early 2011 we got a release date and a name of famous composer as a producer! There was only one question left: better or ‘just’ as good as Aura?

Even though I loved the new songs live, I wasn’t convinced immediately. The first listen: um, already end? 53 minutes and no ‘wow’? The second listen: ok, that’s nice, but that’s also boring! And at last the third listen: OH MY GOD! It’s a masterpiece!

Might be Mr Preisner’s influence or their own decision to divide real fans of the genre from fashion-followers etc. Might be just a natural flow of things. What’s sure is that we get music that at first may seem a bit too calm and boring, suggesting that they drastically changed. But in fact – apart from adding some piano and more ambient electronics – they just took their music bricks and constructed them into more complex structure. At first you see a simple building but when you get closer, you discover all secret passages, little windows, brattices and sculptures.

These Days, Glory Days begins with a clear ambient atmosphere and simple piano followed with characteristic for TFN intensive drum&bass combo. The most visible change is the guitars – developed Joseph Merrick style and constant, but subtle appearance of piano.

The Fall of Leviathan is one of the songs played before the release, and also one of the album highlights. Features major pressure and weight changes – dreamy passages repeatedly broken by guitar ‘walks’ wandering this way to a brilliant outburst. Waiting For The World To Turn Back is a small interlude guitar-chat, leading to massive Caravans. Again, the tale begins with ambient background and joining drums. When the guitars and bass appear all melts into a beautiful Aura-like culmination and nicely evolving curtain. Special thanks to stunning, absorbing atmosphere.

White Gardens is pretty untypical, but has a lot of charm. Sad guitars and lovely strings in the background growing to a slightly raging break. Hypothermia is yet another interlude miniature. Quite unshaped but nice nethertheless. To my surprise, the booklet says that those two short soundtrack-like songs are the only ones written ‘just’ by TFN, not like the rest – signed TFN and Zbigniew Preisner.

Siberia is the longest track planned in a similar way. Its strongest points are once again – subdued basses (cutting out their intensity in comparison to Aura is one of the most regrettable facts to me) and simplified parts of guitars – thanks to that effect they became much lighter and a whole song seems to float (melting Siberia’s snow revenging for polish prisoners from the past?). But be careful! Do not let these calming sounds knock you out!

On Cemetery Of Frozen Ships you’ll be gently woken up by entering drone bass waves and a tiny guitar tale. Yet the best is an amazing acoustic guitar outro reminding of beautiful old times when guitar solo didn’t mean doing all available musical scales in shortest possible time. Accompanied by woozy electronic it becomes pure beauty. Makes you press ‘play’ again and again...

I don’t want to judge whether Earthshine is better than Aura. It’s probably more mature in its structure and composition. It is less aggressive and rebel. The beloved bass is well hidden whereas electronics get more important. But it’s still deeply emotional and perfect for a relax and meditation, no matter what time of day. So don’t give up, listen to Aura while energetic and to Earthshine while peaceful!


  1. I missed vocals with some deep lyrics on Aura, like in most instrumental post-rock/metal bands. But still, it's one of the very few polish bands that succeed while not go under commercialism. I'll try Eartshine tomorrow. Thanks for the review.

  2. Better no vocals than lousy ones and there are too few examples of writing both interesing music&lyrics nowadays;P Try, I believe it's worth it:) Thanks a lot for a comment!