And So I Watch You From Afar have definitely come a long way since their debut self-titled album back in 2009, adopting more of an experimental, symphonic sound. The Northern Irish instrumental rock group have just released their sixth studio album ‘Jettison’, which seems to be primarily inspired by cinematic scores. With the use of spoken word from artists such as Clutch’s Neil Fallon and instrumentals from the Arco String Quartet throughout; combined with exciting visuals from artist Sam Niehl, it really feels like you are being transported into a different world with this album!

As with all of And So I Watch You From Afar’s previous musical material, there is a strong sense of optimism and positivity throughout. This is the foursome’s first release since their 2019 compilation ‘ASIWYFA Live 10 Year Anniversary‘, with their last album ‘The Last Shimmering‘ coming out in 2017. This five year musical gap has been clearly inspirational for ASIWYFA; as with many artists, the pandemic has had a real part to play in this album’s story.

The album begins with ‘I Dive Pt 1’, which is a slow but thought provoking track, starting the compilation off well. It features spoken word contributions from Los Angeles singer, Emma Ruth Rundle. As the song builds, it gets more and more grounding, like the music you would expect to hear whilst meditating.

‘II Dive Pt 2’ is also very similar in style, but with the use of a prominent drum beat and a gentle electric guitar riff throughout.

However, ‘Jettison’ is amped up significantly with the next song ‘III Lung’, which features an unforgettable rippling guitar riff, adjacent to ASIWYFA’s previous post-rock sound. Coming in at just under 2 minutes in length, ‘III Lung‘ is truly a little nugget of musical goodness!

The rock feel definitely continues to progress with ‘IV in Air’, with spoken vocals belonging to Clutch’s lead vocalist Neil Fallon. The Belfast instrumentalists have really transformed their sound to be mesmerizing, whilst still clutching onto their old, iconic roots for a little bit longer. ‘V Hold’ blends in effortlessly with the latter portion of the track before, with Rundle’s vocals adding a real flavour of significance and almost a haunting feel.

‘VI Submerge‘ is certainly on the same musical wavelength, adding more of a richness and complexity to this already experimental album release. You are taken to another dimension with ‘VII Emerge’ and ‘VIII Jettison’ which are entirely different kettles of musical fish! ASIWYFA are clearly mixing things up as the album is progressing with faster instrumentation, almost leaning into the math rock genre. They still manage to keep things interesting with the prominent use of string instruments, as well as heavier guitar riffs in the midst of it all. The last track on the album is ‘IX A.D. Poet’, which rounds ‘Jettison’ off nicely, subconsciously putting you into a dream-like state. It really feels as though this track is encouraging you to reflect on your own personal experiences, with the spoken word from Emma Louise Rundle at the end really helping to put things into perspective. There is also an option to listen to the album in its entirety without any ad breaks, which is a great addition. To get the full flavour of ASIWYFA’s ‘Jettison’, this would be highly recommended as there is a clear, evident story throughout the duration.

Overall, ‘Jettison’ is most certainly a thought-provoking and imaginative piece of musical material, stupendous from start to finish. There are clearly many genres in which And So I Watch You From Afar can dip their feet into, ones that you thought could have been slightly out of their reach – we have definitely been proved otherwise! ‘Jettison’ will be sure to impress and fascinate both listeners old and new. This band have truly gone to new heights with this record, proving that they are a real force to be reckoned with!

‘Jettison’ is out now via Velocity Records.

Verdict: 4/5

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