Set & Setting- Equanimity
Record Label: Science of Silence
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Whenever I read a review for an instrumental album, I prepare myself to hear about the way "the bass frolics in and out of a flurry of guitars" or how "the natural tones of the album weave in and out of each other effortlessly throughout each track". I know the music differs from any other genre, arguably provoking more imagery and storytelling while sitting on what has to be an incredible amount of effort and sheer talent, and that can be a really, really difficult thing to convey to others. I'm going to do my best to avoid phrases like that throughout this review, but in trying to describe the tour-de-force that is Set & Setting's Equanimity, I may not be able to help myself.
"Through The Unhindered Break of Day" is the perfect title to describe the first thing you hear listening to Equanimity. Soft, natural sounds paired with the buildup of droning guitars and light drumwork sets the perfect tone to introduce what soon becomes the exploding "Spiraling Obscenities". The song is a truly devastating storm of guitars and percussion, and although the band putting themselves into overdrive for about 15 seconds sounds muddled and a little much, the song otherwise becomes a perfect vessel for brooding bass and a crescendo of distorted instrumentation, coming to a beautifully strummed and soft ending. It's incredible how much influence you can find in Set & Setting's music, most notably by Explosions in the Sky and If These Trees Could Talk, but without it hindering their own original ideas.
Calming centerpiece "Fear of Obtainment" marches along effortlessly beside bending guitars and breathtaking melody until it begins to close out with just the right amount of harmonics...or so you think. I'm not one to ruin surprises, but what follows after a sea of distortion is one of the longest, most brutal breakdowns you'll hear in instrumental music this year. Carried out with the sounds of background radio and what sounds like someone leaving the studio, it naturally takes place as the album's focal point. "Petrichor" is a brief interlude that calls back sounds from the record's introduction accompanied by light, acoustic guitar, and "New Age" offers something completely different. The track is composed of dark piano and electric guitar, until the string begin to bleed in and soak throughout the song's duration in what becomes an extremely successful sonic experiment.
The record's organic feel continues in "The Truth of the Path", an atmospheric seven minutes that ends in rolling percussion that leads straight into the dynamic finale, "Essence of Paradox". "Essence" begins as a whirlwind of instrumentation that flexes its muscles and grows into one of the strongest moments of the album. The speed picks up, guitars begin to race and while something still seems off about the band going into total overdrive, you can't help but feel the emotion in every minute of Equanimity's biggest jam. And there it is- that flurry of instrumentation, that frolicking bass, those natural tones that you can't escape until the album's epic closing strings.
What's left to say about Set & Setting's Equanimity? What kind of long-winded adjectives and dramatic imagery should summarize this review? How many times did I Google synonyms whilst writing this review? The answers are in this near-perfect album, ladies and gentlemen. All you have to do is press play.