For those immersed in the captivating scene of post-rock, God Is An Astronaut need little introduction. For nearly 2 decades the Co. Wicklow (IRE) based band have explored the boundaries of introspective, emotive, guitar lead music – perhaps sharing more in common with ambient electronic music than many give them credit for, and sit high at the top of the pyramid globally as genre forebears. Those lucky to be in attendance tonight were treated with the 4-piece’s 2011 magnum-opus “All is Violent, All is Bright” in it’s entirety; not only in a celebration of the band’s prolific career, but of the genre itself.
The Butterfly Explosion begin tonight’s astral journey, lead by frequent GIAA collaborator Gazz Carr on guitar, playing some of their first shows in 10 years.
Recurring motifs build to awe inspiring crescendos across the bands set, taking a focused turn in the latter half of the set, where swirling twin leads come together in satisfying unison.
The signature metallic Orange amp tones reverberating in “Carpark” build throughout, to seamlessly yet gradually blend into a driving galloping bass line which then develops to a hectic climax that pays off, closing out their performance into a twisted and darker soundscape amidst frantic lights.
Having suffered a number of setbacks and inevitable rearrangements, anticipation is high for tonight’s headliners. Announcing their intention to perform the aforementioned “All Is Violent, All Is Bright” cover-to-cover is met with rapture.
“Fragile”, the album’s opener set’s the scene for much of what is to come, with a tranquil and ethereal quality, visually illustrated with searchlight-like back lighting, immediately instigating an attentive silence from all in the room.
With a richly textured sound – very much the sum of it’s parts – GIAA’s immensely talented line up spread their wings on “Fireflies and Empty Skies”, with multi-instrumentalist Jamie Dean taking on additional bass guitar duties, along with Niels Kinsella, building to a repetitive grooving bass drive, all the while maintaining a luxurious operatic quality – further aided by the house’s red stage-curtain behind the band.
This quality is further developed through “A Deafening Distance” where trademark ethereal clean guitar leads gradually build to a film-score like boom.
Though many tracks are instigated by such soothing, mysterious passages to begin with, most conclude with bombastic overdriven cacophonies. “Suicide by Star” being a shining example, here slowly transforming and then maintaining a roaring and intense double-kick drum sound, played with considerably more aggression on stage than on disc.
“Remembrance Day” perhaps the most sorrowful but iconic lead piano lines of the band’s career is dutifully accompanied by aquatic lighting colours on stage, concluding in an utterly entrancing, rhythmic swirl.
During the performance it was crucial to take a short moment to study and acknowledge quite how enormous lead guitarist Torsten Kinsella’s effects pedal board actually is. Very few players in this, or any guitar-lead music genre are utilizing such a volume of kit, even less to such great effect. Such equipment really comes to the fore on “Dust and Echoes” where a hypnotizing, repetitive lead line FX loop slowly catches up with the rest of the band to tremendously satisfying effect.
Torsten also provides subtle vocal intonations throughout, demonstrating the voice to very much be a textured instrument of it’s own, often filling the few gaps left by the bands live instrumentation with ethereal harmonies.
Closing out the first part of their set with “When Everything Dies”, it is truly the next chapter of tonight’s show that leaves us speechless.
The 10 year progression from “All is Violent” to 2021’s “Ghost Tapes #10” is evident and monumental; performing just 5 songs from this record back to back demonstrates a solidification in tone and concept to GIAA’s sound.
“Ghost Tapes #10” whilst arguably peerless, does yet evoke the textures of Karnivool, even Porcupine Tree, utilizing the sounds of electronic interference, and scrambling dark industrial tones alongside memorable and emotive riffing. Tracks like “Spectres” and “Burial”, again performed live with considerably more weight than on record is textbook GIAA – increasingly loud, with moving climaxes defines the finale of this evening, culminating in “Fade”, building to a crescendo of noise, leading on to rapturous applause.
God Is An Astronaut are due to tour extensively in 2022 and offer a must-see show.
Fragile All Is Violent, All Is Bright Forever Lost Fire Flies and Empty Skies A Deafening Distance Infinite Horizons Suicide by Star Remembrance Day Dust and Echoes When Everything Dies Adrift Spectres In Flux Burial