[sic] Magazine

To Destroy A City – To Destroy A City

n5MD , the label that started life in promotion of emotive IDM artists, now seems to collect indietronica acts like Panini Cards. The latest, Chicago’s To Destroy A City sound from their name as though they should be gargantuan, metal-infused post rockers when in fact they seem to have spent the last ten years listening to the cream of post-rock, nu-gaze and ambient techno. This self-titled debut tips its hat to half the n5 roster. To give a concrete example, ‘Philosophy of a knife’ is pure Lights Out Asia and the whole album would make a fine companion piece to the recent Winterlight record. But To Destroy A City go beyond incestuous. They’re reaching for something bigger, something else, something we haven’t quite seen (heard) before in the fuzzy world of programming and guitars.

A lot of this genre takes its blueprint from one of the indie greats and then delivers its own version, alive to the possibilities of the latest software and techniques. I don’t see this as a drawback or a criticism at all. Cocteau Twins and Slowdive reign supreme as influences, as, of course, do Mogwai . If I had a dollar for every time I spotted the ‘Fear Satan’ or ‘Helicon’ scales I could probably afford my own pro-tools. To Destroy A City don’t quite fall into the same trap. If anything, Explosions In The Sky and God Is An Astronaut seem clearer influences. Yes, underneath the veil of amorphic cloud swell they actually are laying waste to cities.

It’s rare for me to love whole albums of this ilk. To Destroy A City is no exception. There are pieces on here that work less well. I don’t much care for ‘The Marvels Of Modern Civilization’ but it doesn’t outstay its welcome. That said, I can tell you that when the album works, it really works. The best pieces here are fabulous. The glacial, ‘Ilium’ and the stately ‘Goodbye Dear friend’ are clear examples of this.

I think back to times when I used to hesitate over technical aspects of my reviews. Are they real guitars? Are they using delay or chorus? Is that programming? I have long since abandoned any notions of precision there. Music is music, no matter what the technique or process. As evidenced here on To Destroy A City . If this recording is the result of any mechanical or artificial process, perhaps somebody could explain how it sounds so organic and natural.

We play out to the strains of ‘March’ which I think reprises the theme of ‘Goodbye Dear Friend’ before layering on an exquisite piano refrain.

It’s beautiful.


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