RANGES - The Ascensionist
To some, the word “ranges” itself possesses a workmanlike functionality, a general descriptiveness that skews away from terms and phrases that pop with sexiness. However, with catchiness comes pretense, and with pretense comes impermanence. Take a moment to consider the nuances inherent beneath the surface of the word “ranges:” awe-inspiring expanse, evocative landscapes, a hard-fought beauty that can only be expressed over time. Deceptively simple, RANGES proves the perfect moniker for this tirelessly-working post-rock band from Bozeman, Montana. Not only does their name provide listeners with a sense of place, quite literally the appropriate descriptive terminology for the region they call home, but also a glimpse into the ethics, aesthetics and sonic mission statement the band seeks to set forth. Working within a genre that eschews lyrical content for a richer and more textured approach to instrumental songwriting, RANGES traffics in the evocative, and their mission involves opening listeners’ minds to explore whatever narrative happens to most move them. Those familiar with the world of post-rock are well aware of the feeling that comes with staring into the eyes of nature while enveloped in sound and having those eyes stare back with a glisten heretofore unrealized. The beauty of the surrounding world is inevitably a driving force behind post-rock, and in that pursuit RANGES both crystallizes and pays homage to a crucial element of the art form’s basic fabric.
While RANGES’ music allows for all sort of imaginative journeying, they are not without clear conceptual foundation. Their 2015 standalone single “Night and Day” is a 24-minute musical study of the cycle of a day, with each minute representing an hour, moving from the quiet stir of early morning to the apex of late afternoon, from the crescendos of an evening lit by a million stars to the whispered reflectiveness of the small hours beyond midnight. Their 2016 LP The Gods of the Copybook Headings gazes upon the pages of classic literature, using the stanzas of Rudyard Kipling’s poem to relay concepts that are just as relevant today as they were nearly a century ago. By utilizing the written word as a template for their wordless pieces, RANGES deftly balances thematic intent with a respect for their listeners’ potential interpretations.
2017 sees the release of RANGES’ third full-length, aptly titled The Ascensionist. While remaining informed by the band’s previous works, it is a record that opens up their sound considerably. While the drive to stay true to traditional rock stylings remains intact, there is an undeniable shift of focus toward sweeping crescendos and more expansive soundscapes. This indeed stands apart as the band’s most epic work, a magnum opus that clearly marks a nexus point representing the culmination of one era of RANGES leading into the next. Avid music listeners will understand that this is one of those albums that is lifted in part by its intangibles, by the unshakable sense that this is a record that reflects a time when everyone found themselves on just the right page together at the right time. It signals a maturation from previous material, where their music ceased to be their reflection of what post-rock should be and became what they do, triumphantly so. The Ascensionist is where the concept becomes the reality, and where RANGES propels upward toward the top of the mountain.
By David Zeidler
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