Blending the folksy melancholy and fluid poetry of recent Current 93 with the moody romance of Mono, opening piece “As True As Troilus” advances and recedes cautiously to begin with. Only after 14 minutes does it burst through the floodgates as distortion, wailing vibrato leads and thick white noise jets – it’s very cinematic stuff, reaching the sort of glossy, long-awaited climaxes that come crashing in like a Hollywood apocalypse. Poet Jayne Amara Ross makes a distinctive entrance during this opening piece: her words are soft, and her tone is breathy and cracked, with syllables teased out gently like elastic. There’s also a DVD accompanying this opening track, which offers up a dark and dream-like collection of images to run in parallel with the lyrical content (visually comparable to the disturbing black-and-white horror of David Lynch’s “Eraserhead”, as noted by the band themselves). It’s a very grand and assertive opening statement from Farewell Poetry, and any references to sound-alikes do nothing to tarnish the fact that the band are quick to forge a sound all of their own.
However, “All In The Full, Indomitable Light Of Hope” strides away from the band’s distinctive sound and into blatant post-rock cliché – for all its optimistic energy and tidal swell, the piece dwells shamelessly in the shadow of Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Red Sparowes, utilising the same tremolo guitar and cymbal wash pioneered and utterly exhausted by both. Amara Ross enters only during the piece’s opening and closing stages, during which the music retreats into sparse, dissonant atmospherics to give her words adequate room to breathe. In fact, it’s these quieter patches that bring the more innovative sound choices into focus, and such creativity is either drowned out or entirely absent as Farewell Poetry charge into crescendo.
Disappointingly, Hoping for the Invisible to Ignite reaches its peak with that first 20-minute piece. The track spreads itself over a lot of stylistic ground, while implying that the band may venture further into stranger, darker spaces as the record progresses, but the rest of the album seems to withdraw into more restrained and rational territory. It’s as though Farewell Poetry exorcise all nightmarish thoughts during this opening track and are left to resort to more conventional and predictable creative choices for the remainder of the record’s duration. That said, there’s no doubt that the band have ample potential and ambition at their disposal; Farewell Poetry prove that they can be exciting and inventive when they want to be, so here’s hoping that future releases can push their capability limits more consistently.