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Music Review: Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun – White Dancer

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Formed in 2005, this New Jersey band comprises five musicians who each bring their own very different influences and style to the bands overall sound. The result is simply intriguing.  

Like their name suggests, Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun also delve into somewhat darker territory and deliver songs about struggle, fear, and confusion. However, there are also some altogether more uplifting tracks that explore the other end of the emotional spectrum such as hope, endearment, devotion.

Pressing play on their album White Dancer sets off a journey that is partly Elbow, a little Editors, a hint of Arcade Fire, a touch of Muse, and a slight nod to the inevitable Radiohead. All of this is tightly knitted together with a host of other things just below the surface that helps create a sound that is very much their own.

The Jersey City five-some comprises of singer, guitarist, and keyboard player Victor Fernandes,  the bass of Wayne Green, guitarist Craig Monaco, and the guitars and keys of Mike Nastri. It is all underpinned by the highly impressive and inventive drumming of John Falcone.

Their sound is, as ever, best explained on the band's promotional information which says, “when listening to each song, interwoven in the music, you may hear guitars and keyboards influenced by rhythms of Frank Zappa, the dark harmonies of Wayne Shorter, the beauty of Sigur Ros, the pensive feel of Broken Social Scene or the escaping mood of Elbow.”

It adds, “there are drum beats that are influenced by the poly-rhythmic beats of Bill Bruford or the crisp tightness of Steward Copelend, vocal styles with melancholic emotion of Portuguese Fado and bass lines influenced by the eerie atmospheric sounds of David Lynch and surreal visuals of Terry Gilliam.”

Intrigued? I was. The eight songs that make up White Dancer kick off with the title track, a clever amalgam of everything promised above. With so much going on within this album, it may take a couple of plays before it starts to get under your skin. Sure enough, it does and “Boardwalk Splinters” confirms your hopes and expectations.

“The Flood, The Dead, The Escape”, a song of hope, builds slowly, becoming compulsively uplifting. “I’m finally outta here, thank God” sings Fernandes over chiming guitar, and pounding drum. From that moment I was 'in the album' only to become momentarily thrown by the sidestepping upbeat start of “Teflon Kids.”

“Americana” arrives with simple keys over a drum-speak rhythm and unfolds into another uplifting but constantly shifting, and cunningly crafted soundscape. This is a band brimming with imagination and ideas some of which are, at face value, almost in conflict with each other. Yet it works, and it works very well indeed.

They go dark again on the atmospheric “Night Tremors” a track with layers of ever shifting shades. A twisting “Tumours” and the curiously entitled “How I Learned To Love The Bomb” ensure that there is no way you can double guess what is coming next. The latter, a gentle easing and shifting down, fittingly ends the album. However, as it dramatically slams into life you are jolted back into the now with a sense of the unexpected.

Their Planes Will Block Out The Sun is as intriguing as their name. There may not be any sitting on the fence with this but allow it get grow and it will creep under your skin in a way that will have you delving further into it with every play.

Follow the link for a listen on the bands MySpace page.

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About Jeff Perkins