Airplanes Over Johannesburg is a new solo project from Ottawa, Ontario based-guitarist Curtis Berndt. His music consists of instrumental post-rock guitar symphonies that slowly take their time to reveal stunning melodic riffs, along with the presence of extremely distorted guitars and some strings here and there as well. His debut EP, “There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence”, just about describes the music perfectly by itself: a slowly evolving EP where textures and melodies in sound reign over the virtuosity and shredding abilities of the guitar.
The EP begins with “Don’t Fly Too Close To The Sun On Wings Of Wax”, which is a direct reference to the Greek myth of Icarus, with beautifully composed guitar riffs, alongside an underlying guitar pulse, which acts as the bass of the song. Later on in the song, string samples can be heard along with the slowly evolving guitar riffs, and near the very end, an explosion of ultra-distorted guitar occurs, along with tremolo-picked guitar riffs that immediately jar the listener out of the trance-like state that the rest of the song has set up. “Young At Heart/Old In Soul” is the next track, in which it begins with a slow drum beat, as well as riffs that seem to continue from right where “Don’t Fly…” left off. The song slowly builds up through minimally beautiful guitar riffs to a quiet section of distant tremolo-picked riffs and slow guitar arpeggios that act again as a sort of pulse for the music. The guitar riffs slowly become more and more complex until near the very end, they slowly die away into silence.
“Snow Angels In The Ashes”, the shortest track on the EP, begins with distorted feedback before very beautiful and melodic guitar riffs interplay with each other, along with more of the distant tremolo picking, before again slowly fading out 2 minutes later. “Airplanes of Johannesburg” ends the EP out with slowly evolving guitar loops, which interplay melodically with each other, and are enveloped in a slight delay effect. Yet again, low guitar drones make for a sort of pulse or bass in the song. In the middle, the melodies become more complex and beautiful, before eventually fading out into a drone, at which the EP ends.
Overall, Airplanes Over Johannesburg’s “There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence” has a great production for being so lo-fi, and showcases some great ideas. The combination of melodic guitar loops is beautifully arranged, and can pretty much prove itself to be post-rock material. Unfortunately, the thing that bothered me the most with this EP was the repetition. The ideas here are great, but they seem to repeat and drone on way too much for my liking. Post-rock usually progresses into huge climaxes, but here, there are only usually one or two changes in melodies and texture throughout each song. The ultra-distorted guitar at the end of “Don’t Fly…” definitely excited me, shocking me out of the trance that the song previously introduces, and kept me listening for more, as well as the drums in “Young At Heart/Old At Soul” kept things moving along for me. But otherwise, the melodies repeat themselves way too much, and at times make me want to hear something different happen in the song. Well, something different does happen, but not quite in the way I expected it. Then again, maybe it is supposed to be repetitive? Maybe it’s supposed to put me in a dream-like state of mind? Truthfully, I can’t tell. The production is great, and the melodies are very beautiful, especially in the way that they interplay with each other, but the arrangement of the songs overall fell sort of short of my expectations. If it weren’t too repetitive, I probably would have enjoyed this EP more. However, I would still like to hear more from Curtis in the future, because the way he layers guitar melodies is magnificent, and he certainly has a lot of great ideas in that aspect on this EP. I just would have wished that there was more progression in the tracks.
Title: There’s Beauty In The Violence/There’s Beauty In The Silence
Artist: Airplanes Over Johannesburg
Released 2011 by Brainstream Records
You can download the EP for free here!: http://www.mediafire.com/?l8v63o989y4qk88