“This “double album” from Half Film isn’t exactly new music – the trio found themselves caught up in the slowcore scene of the late-‘90s, and after bringing out East Of Monument in 1998 and The Road To The Crater in 1999, they called it a day. Hidden Shoal Recordings have taken it upon themselves to put both albums out, and it’s a gem of slow-burning, understated atmosphere.
East Of Monument’s eight tracks all run into each other with slight sonic variations of tone and cadence yet all set on the same steady keel. There’s no ebb and flow here; from the brooding Weather Patterns to the ambling undulations of Beaten By A Landslide, the songs invariably remain the same. Even when they break from tradition, they don’t – The Arrangement holds a candle to Slint, albeit without the cathartic violent release, whilst Sortition threatens the quiet/loud dynamic of post-rock to no avail. Yet despite the repetition, the inherent melody is held throughout, a muted nuance held further aloft by guitarist Conor Devlin’s hushed vocals.
The Road To The Crater doesn’t really break from this formula, instead infusing each song with a stronger personality to stand on their own two feet whilst still intrinsically linked to each other as a whole. The soaring twang of the guitar on Stepless, the slight harmonies of The Mother Of All Distance and the insistent bass underlying Birchwood all add warmth not felt before. And in Machines, Hawks And The Perfect Equation, they’ve crafted a song that rivals anything that Low or Codeine were doing at the same time. A missed gem to be savoured.”