Vespertine is the musical score that THIS WILL DESTORY YOU composed for Chef Jordan Kahn’s two-star Michelin restaurant of the same name. Not a normal project by any means, but what would you expect from these Texan Post-Rock experimentalists?
The physical site of the restaurant in Culver City, California, is the only place where you could listen to this piece since its grand opening in late 2017, and it’s easy to see why the band wanted to release it to a wider audience. Vespertine follows on nicely from THIS WILL DESTROY YOU’s Variations & Rarities: 2004-2019, which Dark Operative issued as a digital-only release on May 1st. As the first in an ongoing audio series, the collection pulls from the band’s dense archive of demos, unreleased tracks, unused soundtrack cues, and everything in between.
It’s rare we get stuff like this to review. In fact, it’s probably our first true concept album as such. So, the question is, how does a band as prolific as THIS WILL DESTROY YOU adjust to compiling a music soundtrack for the sophisticated diners? And can it rival Björk’s wonderful album of the same name?
‘Building Rubble’ and ‘Entrance’ do exactly what they say on the tin and give us a deeply inviting welcome to the establishment. Both are slow in their build up and fade in with the blurred beauty of congruent dreams. This is how you draw listeners into the experience. Yet ‘Kitchen’ is the undoubted highlight of the album. You’ll marvel how it grabs your attention as you almost drop your cutlery to the soft build-up of atmospherics that flash us back to ‘An Ending’ By Brian Eno. Indeed, this could feature on an epic movie score, or anything for that matter. The band initially released this track to the masses in 2017 and followed it up with a limited-edition picture flexi at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Believe it or not, it now stands among the band’s most popular outputs to date.
Like any concept album you should listen to this composition from start to finish. ‘Garden’ encapsulates and engorges as it takes you off on a 21-minute epic journey. Think of this section as the Christopher Nolan-esque transcendence into the fourth dimensional realm. The guitar infusions touch on bands like Marriages and Red Sparowes at their high points. It’s always captivating.
From a formulaic perspective, Vespertine is not a weird concept at all. On the contrary, music and food often share a lot of structure and organization. Instrumental sounds are so delicate when constructed in this manner. After all, it’s here where culinary delights begin their consumption as a delicacy rather than an eat-to-live scenario. How many times is our eating experience filled with the opening highs of the first taste of the rich and pleasing before it plateaus at the point where one is full and on the comedown? You have all those ingredients present here in this ensemble and a perfect example how scores like this can be more than just background sounds.
Without a doubt, THIS WILL DESTROY YOU are on to something special that will linger in the memories of years to come like an exquisite gateau in your palette. It’s worth highlighting again that this isn’t just music for diners, but music for everyone.
Release Date: 09/06/2020
Record Label: Dark Operative
Standout tracks: Kitchen, Rooftop, Garden
Suggested Further Listening: Red Sparowes – At the Soundless Dawn (2005), Marriages – Salome (2015), Brian Eno – Music For Airports (1978)