What drew me to Departure Songs, the third album from Aussie post-rockers We Lost the Sea, was the concept. All of these songs are about people who died helping others, from deep-sea diver David Shaw to the two men who shut down the Chernobyl reactor; they’ve even got a two-part epic about the Space Shuttle Challenger. That being said, you’ll just have to imagine these courageous acts of bravery while listening, since this album is entirely instrumental.
“A Gallant Gentleman” starts us off, by far the shortest track at a shade over six minutes. This one gets off to a rather mellow start, with an extended, delicate, multi-guitar intro—there are three guitarists in this band—before a piano and some atmospheric wah start painting a broader picture. The drums join the fray in pure post-rock fashion, gradually building up to a crescendo of cymbal crashes. The total effect is almost uplifting.
“Bogatyri” begins with strings from the sounds of things, before a meandering bass line brings us into bossa nova(!) territory. We do get a bit more of a rock feel eventually, complete with the omnipresent cymbal crashes, but it’s still a rather mellow number, falling somewhere on the lighter side of ISIS (the band, not the terrorists). And in true ISIS fashion, “The Dive of David Shaw” starts off with some underwater effects, including the sound of oxygen-tank breathing and a muffled communications radio. This one takes a little while to get going and, at just under 17 minutes, it isn’t going anywhere fast, but once it reaches its crescendo, over 10 minutes later, it offers some pretty heavy riffage.
The two-part Challenger epic takes up a total of 32 and a half minutes, with an overly lengthy spoken-word intro begetting an overextended snoozefest. As a whole, this album isn’t bad as background music, but at 67 minutes, it’s a bit of a long slog.