Published Jan 27, 2017Like other bands that find themselves in the vague and contested territory of instrumental post-rock, Set and Setting rarely stray too far from their comfort zone. On their third LP, Reflectionless, they build on an established foundation of layered, saturated guitar and an aggressive sensibility emphasized by two drummers, foregoing the genre's typical ebb and flow in favour of a rumbling drive towards the unknown.
While their previous albums explored memory and place through a wistful palette of greys and blues, Reflectionless taps into the liminal experiences that accompany a loosening of ego. Songs shift and morph like fragments of a particularly vivid dream.
Yet, despite this more colourful approach, Set and Setting still very much sound like a metal band. Songs like "Ephemerality" and "Axiom Dream Within..." wouldn't be out of place on a Deafheaven record, as the expanded rhythm section fills out sunnier moments with rolling toms and blast-beats, effectively keeping these songs anchored even when the guitars threaten to float away. Elsewhere, "…The Mirrored Self" churns and bubbles through a fog of harmonic ambivalence while palm-muted power chords and pummelling drums mark it as the most sinister track on the record.
Ultimately, Reflectionless demands a patience that might not be entirely reasonable. The record provides rich soundscapes for the imaginative listener to explore, but its amorphous structure tends to leave one stranded in the psychedelic wilderness with little indication of where to go or when the reverie will end. (Independent)