Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

I build sparse yet sturdy songs, as well as Collapsible Mountains

July 10, 2011

I Build Collapsible Mountains is on the shortlist of favorite band names I’ve heard this year. While I was expecting some sort of post-rock (a la Godspeed! You Black Emperor, Explosions in the Sky and Moving Mountains), I was pleasantly surprised to find a chill collection of acoustic tunes in this self-titled EP.

Luke Joyce, the Scot behind IBCM, has a pleasant, calming voice that matches the gentle, acoustic backdrops he sets. Even when he ropes in a full band arrangement for “To the Dark,” the sound still feels intimate.  Still, the best moments come when it’s strictly guitar and voice. Joyce’s songwriting stands up impressively on its own.

Joyce prefers fingerpicking to strumming, and that makes a big difference in how his songs come across. The movement in the melody lines provides the bit of compelling interest that isn’t supplied by his aforementioned voice; a bit of auxiliary melody via bells (“Rails”) or atmospheric synth (“Where We Go Tomorrow”) is the icing on the cake. “Switches” uses reverb as almost its own instrument, and the forlorn feel he conjures up is the darkest on the EP, which deals in pleasant shades of grey.

Fans of Damien Jurado will find many similar traits in I Build Collapsible Mountains, especially in the cultivation of emotional atmosphere through use of space in the sparse arrangements. If there’s more in this vein (i.e. he doesn’t go all rock band on us), things look very bright appropriately moody for IBCM. One to watch.

Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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