Across Tundras - Dark Songs of the Prairie
Crucial Blast
Post-hardcore, post-rock
8 songs (51'36")
Release year: 2006
Reviewed by Alex

I decided to give Across Tundras a whirl as there has been a lot of buzz about this band lately passing across my Inbox. Besides, living in the US Midwest myself I was interested to hear how someone else interprets the sounds of wide-open plains and rustic little towns. I doubt many in my church-going enclave, even though it isn’t very rustic and there is a University here, will be associating Dark Songs of the Prairie with country rock or the wind-chimes on their porch, but there is definitely a large degree of authentic post-core emanating from this Crucial Blast slab. How much you are going to enjoy it depends entirely on how much you will be able to go with the flow.

Dark Songs of the Prairie is ultimately a rambling meandering jam, structureless, searching music, which only periodically grows the central spine song line (Western Wind). You have got to be able to let go and, instead, submerge yourself entirely under the rumbling sludgy tempos, atmospheric uber-amplified heaviness, bass reverberation and frail longing melodies, trying to find their way from under this hulking mass. Picking out Across Tundras warm melodic touches has been something fun to do. It, frankly, kept my focus while listening here, which probably made their more melodic cuts on the album my favorites. Going for a defocused guitar twang (Ramblin’ in the Shadows) or acoustic strum (The Old Sexton) or children’s lullaby (Dark Flower of the Prairie) allows Across Tundras to mesh their sensitive side with pressing sound weightiness and progressive seemingly could-care-less up-and-down-with-tempo percussion.

If this band went with a rehashed hardcore screamo vocals, it would ruin the fragile balance between the heavy and the gentle on the album. Luckily, the vocals, even though the lyrics are lengthy and quite meaningful, are coming from an inside of the deep water vortex, buried in the mix, almost an afterthought. This way the impression of a loner trapped between the vastness of the Midwestern nature and its homey feel is complete.

Although Isis and Neurosis never managed to break through for me completely, this music gains in popularity and begins to attract the stadium size crowds. Across Tundras has got to be squarely in the mix with those fans, and I hope the band perseveres, just like their songs do, going through multiple pickups and decelerations, always getting up and finishing, even If God Cuts You Down. Forget the stadiums, however. Across Tundras would be a huge success in your Nowhere, USA, Main Street bar, playing to the crowd of 20, with the understanding owner letting the sonic sludge peel the paint off the walls to uncover the wood’s true grain.

Killing Songs :
Ramblin' in the Shadows, Western Wind, Dark Flower of the Prairie
Alex quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Across Tundras that we have reviewed:
Across Tundras - Sage reviewed by Khelek and quoted 75 / 100
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