New Civil Service EP Life /// Death offers splendour on a grand scale

“Manchester’s only post-rock band,” Civil Service are nothing if not ambitious. Following on from their magnificently-titled single, ‘David Lynch Mob,’ the band are back with a new EP, Life /// Death, “an aural representation of a person’s life…without a single word sung.”

Civil Service Life /// Death

Recorded on reel-to-reel tape, this five-track cycle kicks off with ‘Fear of Children.’ Sweeping and epic, without ever falling into bombastic or melodramatic, there is an awful lot to like. Moving from thunderous slabs of grand noise to introspective passages of sparse guitar, it’s about as good an opener as you could wish for.

‘Lost in the Forest,’ builds upon the established mood, a fizzing, rumbling storm-cloud shot through with lightning flashes of electric guitar. Emotion lies at the heart of everything Civil Service do, and they do it remarkably well. ‘Monozukuri’ drifts out on delicate strings before gently expanding into a superb, fluttering, jazz-tinged exploration.

‘Gardening Leave’ skitters over a bed of scritching, scratching percussion. Layers of synth rise up behind a hypnotic guitar mantra as the band open up wide and inviting spaces for the listener’s mind to fill. Closer, ‘Terminal’ strides forth like an invading army. A word on the players here, Francis Atkinson (guitar, synth), Alex Coates (guitar), Thom Hamper (drums, programming) and James Wilkes (bass) do a fine job throughout, never once letting the intensity and energy fall.

Any outfit that cites Mogwai, Russian Circles and My Bloody Valentine as influences have a lot to live up to, but Civil Service possess the skill and the heart to do so. This is, quite simply, a superb set of tracks, entertaining, uplifting and beguiling in their scope.

Anyone at all interested in post-rock will want to check out Civil Service.

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