Although they formed in Atlanta, Georgia, Manchester Orchestra took their name from the English city (partly in homage to its musical exports) and there is something quintessentially English about their brand of alternative rock. Throughout a career that’s seen them take a series of musical twists and turns, there’s been a strong melancholic thread stitching their discography together. That element has been brought to the fore on their seventh studio album, The Valley Of Vision, to create a cinematic experience that totally submerges the listener in swirling pools of sonics.
The Valley Of Vision will be accompanied by a 180-degree, virtual reality film created by acclaimed director Isaac Deitz and while the two pieces of art are inextricably linked, Manchester Orchestra’s album can quite easily be enjoyed separately. The band have always had a knack of creating strong imagery through lyrics and music, but their collaboration with Isaac has galvanised the band and opening track ‘Capital Karma’ is almost like a waking dream. The tones and notes employed have been specially selected to resonate with the listener on some deep, emotional level and ‘Capital Karma’ cuts right to the bone. Layers of sound are gradually added until the listener is totally subsumed in the track. The Valley Of Vision is one of those rare works of art that completely severs you from the outside world; there might be a war raging beyond your front door, but the band focus your attention solely on the songs, and that’s no easy feat, especially with a sound that’s often minimalist and threadbare. Paradoxically, The Valley Of Vision can also be multi-layered and richly textured, and will reward repeat listening as a subtle nuances buried deep in the mix reveal themselves on successive spins.
While Manchester Orchestra’s prior album The Million Masks Of God derived inspiration from G.K. Chesterton’s poem Gold Leaves and explored man’s encounter with the angel of death, The Valley Of Vision has a lighter aesthetic and a sense of gratitude emanates from the grooves. There’s a litheness to cuts such as ‘The Way’ that was only hinted at on past releases. Like a pastel-coloured balloon floating in a pale blue sky it has an ethereal feel, yet Andy Hull’s lyricism acts as a weight tugging it towards earth. It’s this constant push and pull that echoes throughout The Valley Of Vision and makes for a rewarding experience. Mostly, however, this album sounds as if it echoes from another dimension; it seems to exist in that otherworldly space betwixt wake and sleep, and the six songs comprising The Valley Of Vision hold you in that magical moment for 26 spellbinding minutes.
Just like the film it accompanies, The Valley Of Vision is a totally immersive experience and reveals yet another facet of the lotus flower that is Manchester Orchestra.
- The Valley Of Vision is released via Loma Vista Recordings on 10th March 2023.
- Capital Karma
- The Way
- Letting Go
- Lose You Again
- Rear View