Ever since forming 16 years ago, Irish quartet God Is An Astronaut has reigned as one of the premier instrumental groups. With its fusion of intense rock instrumentation, ethereal and emotional soundscapes, awe-inspiring dynamics and transfixing melodies. Each of their prior releases has offered a breath taking sonic journey, and their ninth emotive opus, Epitaph, is a record that both sees a progression in their sound while still remaining true to their ethos that helped define the band. The cover artwork was painted by French artist Fursy and fits the melancholic mood beautifully. Joined by long-time drummer Lloyd Hanney, contributions also come from Jamie Dean on keys and Xenon Field on sound design.
The opening title track "Epitaph" sets the album's mood. There is pain and loss at work here, but not pain and loss that are given in to. Sparse piano motifs face energetic rhythms, shimmering guitar coatings, and eruptions of dense fury breathe life into a journey of melancholic longing: there is the release experienced when a troubled existence ends in "Mortal Coil" followed by the somber foreshadowing that is "Winter Dusk." The album changes direction slightly with "Seánce Room" and the music on this highway is taking you someplace meaningful and special - someplace where near and far blur and stars weep over tragedies.
Finally, the beautiful and hypnotic piece of music that is the album-closing "Oisín" is in memory of Torsten and Niels Kinsella's 7-year-old cousin who was tragically taken from this world. It distills into four minutes all the pain, sadness and longing felt by many over a much-longer timeframe. A fitting end to an album that will move you deeply and call out to you to be revisited many times.