Red Sparowes
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Red Sparowes

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The best kept secret in music


"SXSW Live Review"

Emo's Annex, Friday, March 18

Lately, the best way for indie bands to make a buck is through film or television. Hence, Red Sparowes, a new underground instrumental metal supergroup, might quickly pull off a feat usually reserved for their more radio-friendly brethren – actually turning a profit. If their regional debut at Emo's Annex was any indication, this young, talented band has already got their sound nailed. Much lighter, crisper, and catchier than the more brooding bands that spawned them (Isis, Neurosis, and the Temporary Residence band Halifax Pier), Red Sparowes seem particularly well-suited to accompany cinematic drama. This point was underscored by the black-and-white projections that hovered above the L.A. fivepiece, abstract images of city lights and odd faces from odd angles. Opening with the standout second untitled selection from their Neurot Recordings debut, At the Soundless Dawn, Red Sparowes demonstrated immediately what Godspeed You! Black Emperor might be like if they weren't so depressing and drawn out. A rising/falling three-chord apocalyptic arc commingled with a bouncy, catchy, and downright brilliant bassline, with a mellow interlude in the middle giving way to a "once more with feeling" final run-through. The distinctive pedal steel that appears liberally on the album showed up prominently only once, but it showcased a distinctive weapon, both ominous and ornate, that their instrumental rock brethren lack. A cool evening breeze swept through the outdoor annex, brushing up against the fibers and threads of a musical web that managed to be accessible, stimulating, and occasionally on the precipice of the mystical. - Austin Chronicle

"New Noise Review"

Red Sparowes
By Laila Hassani

Red Sparowes come from good stock. Featuring members of the highly revered Isis, plus Halifax Pier and The Cignal, and linked to bands like Neurosis (visuals / videos), Dillinger Escape Plan (tour mates) and Converge (side projects), their bloodlines are strong.

And with the music on their debut album, 'At The Soundless Dawn', they have created a masterful piece of work. For once, PR people get it right, indicating that this band should be filed under 'epic ambient rock'. This is as epic as epic can be, without scaling the unpleasant heights of pomposity and superiority. The self-indulgent titles are at odds with the warm, all-encompassing nature of their music. This is pure, this is sincere.

Seven 'compositions' with titles that are essentially complete sentences, and when put together form a coherent paragraph. A paragraph of as much poetic beauty as the compositions themselves.

Take the opening and closing tracks as examples, respectively: 'Alone And Unaware, The Landscape Transformed In Front Of Our Eyes' and 'The Sixth Extinction Crept Up Slowly, Like Sunlight Through Shutters, As We Looked Back In Regret…'

Each individual track rises and falls with the intensity of deep sleep. Like tidal waves pounding from turbulent oceans onto deserted shores. Like torrential rains flooding down from brooding, cloud-ridden grey skies above, with the same vigour that puts them up there with the heavy post-rock likes of Cult Of Luna.

There are so few vocals, it is virtually an instrumental record. The voice is used as and when the song calls for it, and isn't treated as a vital, integral part of the music.

›› Check them out at Amazon

Much like Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed! You Black Emperor or any other band that experiments in such vast sonic terrains in this manner.

As obvious a reference point as Isis is, or even Cult Of Luna for that matter, Red Sparowes are an altogether more soothing prospect. Less terrifying, they are about the stirring of sounds and emotions, and less about the ear-bleeding ferocity with which such emotions can be delivered.

Like My Bloody Valentine, Red Sparowes are a band of complexities and exploration that alters your headspace. Taking you from the mundane humdrum of reality to a parallel place where sound is all that exists, swirling like a whirlwind around you.

Each note connects to a point or nerve ending, each sound melting through your skin, so much more than mere background noise.

To continue with the weather analogies, they are a force of nature to be reckoned with, and embody all the calm, precise chaos that comes with that. -

"Exo Duster Review"

This is the start of something possibly epic and beautiful. Red Sparowes are comprised of members of Isis, Neurosis, Halifax Pier and Cignal and this, At the Soundless Dawn, is their debut for all those with a piercing fascination of stunning instrumentals. The seven tracks here comprise over an hour and are drenched with blissful moments that are as soothing and compelling as anything the all-stars Explosions in the Sky offer, but Red Sparowes provide darker and heavier imagery to their compositions. This is done not with chugging distorted guitars or double bass, but with darker tones on guitar effects and very little sunshine moments. Their vast texturing comes easily from the intertwining of four guitar/bass players – all of which have experience creating rich soundscapes. With hardly a drop off across the seven long-winded-titled songs – that compile to form a paragraph – this is clearly the best instrumental record released this year. If you are a fan of Temporary Residence and, specifically, bands like Explosions, then you will drool over At the Soundless Dawn.

"Austin Chronicle review"

Red Sparowes

At the Soundless Dawn (Neurot)

Sixty-three minutes of guitarscapes may seem eternal, but there's noise, and then there's noise. L.A. quintet Red Sparowes makes beautiful noise, fluctuating from waves of jet-engine sonics to unsettling bleeps of melody and then back to an atmosphere-shattering melee. As heavy as this not-so-soundless dawn is, it never pummels you, never starts shit. The Sparowes have quite a history within the guitar rock community. Bryant Clifford Meyer and Jeff Caxide anchor Isis, Josh Graham comes courtesy of Neurosis, and Greg Burns and Dana Berkowitz were formerly with Halifax Pier and the Cignal, respectively. The song titles are as epic as the instrumentals, opener "Alone and Unaware, the Landscape Was Transformed in Front of Our Eyes" setting the album's pace by pairing loud choruses with contemplative interludes. Closer, 12-minute stone jam "The Sixth Extinction Crept up Slowly, Like the Sunlight Through the Shutters, As We Looked Back in Regret," is as cinematically stunning and unnerving as an Italian horror film. (The metal band Goblin, which scored various Dario Argento films, is noted as an influence.) And yet the fifth track features pedal steel and pretty guitar that's closer to the Cure's Disintegration than horror flick composers like Goblin. That's the crux for Red Sparowes; the melding of two disparate sounds into one terrifying melodic cacophony. (Friday, March 18, 7:30pm @ Emo's Annex) - Austin Chronicle

"Cd Reviews ATSD Review"

Red Sparowes - At The Soundless Dawn  
Written by James Vella  

Composed of members of Isis, Neurosis, the criminally underrated The Cignal (themselves a Converge-related project) and Halifax Pier (embarrassingly, this was the first I’d heard of the latter, but you could do a lot worse than to check out their magnificent self-titled debut for some quality dark Americana), Red Sparowes have had an incomparable ‘leg-up’ into the world of post metal. In a social equivalent, this would be something along the lines of daddy’s favourite daughter getting a Princeton scholarship and a Porsche under slightly dubious circumstances. Of course, this would only be the case if, like the daughter in question, Red Sparowes weren’t anything special and had quite clearly used their connections to get ahead. However, At The Soundless Dawn, perhaps rather luckily, is a spine-chillingly morose (read: superb) collection of post rock soundscapes of enviable proportions. To be succinct, if I could write like this, I’d never even consider taking up a day job. This is probably why the members of the already-established bands can afford to spread their talent so effortlessly across the numerous projects associated with their full-time bands.

In keeping with the tradition of these full-time bands (here I’m largely thinking of Isis and Neurosis), sprawling, atmospheric, largely instrumental pieces are the order of the day here. However, unlike these bands, the rising tension rarely builds into a suffocating heavy crush. Rather, in the vein of My Bloody Valentine (but less pop) or Explosions In The Sky (but a bit heavier), Red Sparowes keep the tension not by exploding into noise, but by adding more harmonies, more orchestrated interplay between the instruments and more soaring melodies. In fact, it is odd to consider that a record like this was only made with standard ‘band’ instruments – i.e. 2 guitars, bass and a drum kit. Interestingly, the addition of a lap steel guitar (care of Greg Burns – the Halifax Pier member) adds a rather wonderful, melodramatic addition, especially on the sensationally Hawaiian (but astoundingly beautiful) ‘A Brief Moment of Clarity Broke Through The Deafening Hum, But It Was Too Late’.

Opening track ‘Alone and Unaware, the Landscape Was Transformed In Front of Our Eyes’ (the shortest title by quite a margin) is perhaps the immediate choice of top pick, with its post-rock dynamics and, again, beautifully written lap steel solo, although after repeated listens, the album seems to take on more of a ‘whole’, with the paragraph split across the track titles becoming increasingly logical, and the constituent tracks themselves blend into a desolate, sprawling entirety.

Dizzying heights and goose-bump inducing chord changes aplenty, with every phrase aching to explode into something inhumanly, cinematically elevating (it eventually does, fortunately) – this is definitely a record for any self-respecting epic music fan. Buy it and be immersed.

"Decoy Music review"

Post rock has had its head far beyond the clouds for quite some time now. The genre itself may have lost some of its inherent weight since the end of the 90's, but with bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor and Explosions in the Sky still maintaining a sizeable and dedicated fanbase, the scene itself is far from dying off, even if it is more a garnish on the salad than it is the spinach and carrots. This being the case, there hasn't necessarily been a whole lot of diversity outside the parameters of its naturally symphonic and experimental tendencies. When you listen to a post rock album, before you even press play you can expect to hear a lot of delay, a couple of jargled sound samples from somewhere inside a city, and massive landscapes of highly orchestrated sound.

Red Sparowes are not altogether removed from this expectation. The tracks on "At The Soundless Dawn" vary in length from just under 6 minutes to just under 20 and dip in and out of hypnotic rhythms and soothing melody. They have a small infatuation with spacy delay and reverb, which seems more influenced by their peers than an the actual nod to the ambient layering of dream or gaze. In fact, one of Red Sparrowes' more signifying qualities is that their music has a far more organic feel than others of the same breed. Their music emphasizes the natural harmonic sounds of their instruments far more than other bands who make their music so spacy that it becomes intangible. You might dare to say it sounds like a dream that has in fact become true.

In true post rock fashion, this is not a lyrically based album. These are less like songs and more like soundtracks to film. Songs like "Buildings Began To Stretch Wide Across The Sky, And The Air Filled With A Reddish Glow" function as scriptless stories open to all kinds of dramatic interpretation. The song carries what might be a singular 'theme' with its memorable repeating riff and chord progression (something which is hard to create in music as drawn out as this often is), but appears to be more focused on experimentation than actually transmitting a thought. What's more, the music is unusually positive; compared to similar artists, who usually weave a very desolate fabric, Red Sparowes tend to use more upbeat, amiable scales, a certainly refreshing twist.

"At The Soundless Dawn" might not floor the post rock aficionado, but it will definitely win their respect. Well written, confident, smart, and inventive, this album can bring new life to a genre that might have gathered some dust in your collection.

Explosions in the Sky
Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Sigur Ros
Slint -

"Blastwave Review"

Red Sparowes - At The Soundless Dawn

When members of Isis and Neurosis come together to make an instrumental album, my ears prick up almost immediately. With the likes of Pelican, Mogwai and Explosions In The Sky all releasing fantastic albums over the last few years, this kind of post-rock instrumental fare has had an amazing amount of people captivated...and rightly so.

With Red Sparowes, it seems that the amalgamation of Bryant Clifford Meyer (Isis' third guitarist), Josh Graham (Neurosis' visuals man) and various members that are made up of their close personal friends has made one of the most simple but logical albums of the year. Heavy on the atmosphere, this is an album that washes over the listener with as much force as Neurosis or Isis, but with a much more euphoric, rather than cathartic sound. The opening strains of pedal steel on album launcher “Alone and Unaware” signal the start of something truly fresh, the tones created from the initial opening giving way to a gushing wave of guitar and bass, augmented by the pedal steel, it truly moves you.

Second offshoot "Buildings Began To Stretch" forces you to recognize who is at work here. The obvious Isis and Neurosis influences are clear, but the layered and beautiful sound that Red Sparowes create is magnificent. The videos that Graham has made for projection during live shows are of various landscapes, both urban and pastoral, and this is a brilliant complement to the music on offer here. Whereas some instrumental music can easily pass you by, "At The Soundless Dawn" draws the listener in with simple chord progressions behind the melodic strains of the lead guitars and a masterful use of dynamics and Isis-like crescendo.

The album continues at this awesome precedent for over an hour, gushing equally menacing breaks of drone, in "Mechanical Sounds Cascaded Through The City" and soothing, almost classical sounding melancholia in later songs such as "A Brief Moment Of Clarity" which is as close to the Isis sound as this whole album gets.

What is interesting, considering the talent involved, is that Red Sparowes is not treated as simply another side-project. Their own website states clearly that they intend to treat it as a proper, fully realised band.

"At The Soundless Dawn" is an album that needs to be heard and absorbed many times over. Like so many albums of this ilk, it reveals its wonders through repeated listens, and those who do give it time will find it one of their most rewarding and cherished albums.

Myriad -

"Splended Review"

Red Sparowes
At the Soundless Dawn

Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "A brief moment of clarity broke through the deafening hum, but it was too late"

When you learn that Red Sparowes count current/former members of Isis, Halifax Pier and Neurosis among their ranks, you might be inclined to file them in the doom metal category and forget about them -- but if you do this, you'll completely miss the point of their work. Although they can't help but draw influences from the aforementioned outfits, Red Sparowes' brand of avant-space-metal favors slow, pulverizing buildups and molasses-slow pacing over nail gun guitars and frenetic double-bass breakdowns. It's slo-core for the hardcore set, metal for neo-classical neophytes.

At the Soundless Dawn is a dense, sprawling masterwork that deftly bridges the gaps between prog, metal and darkwave, swirling Tribes of Neurot's decaying urgency, Slint's slow-burning glissandi and Caligari's icy calculation into a matte black morass of epic resonance. Though such an insanely ornate piece might sound pretentious (the titles of the seven tracks come together to form a paragraph that's more than a little askew), the band is careful never to plunge too deep into the icy waters of bloated progressive pomp, always erring on the right side of otherworldly and frighteningly massive.

"Buildings began to stretch wide across the sky, and the air filled with a reddish glow" blends muted emotional furor with a masterful understanding of metaphysical dynamics, submerging overwhelming feelings of hurtful regret in a reservoir of avuncular jazz rhythms and guilt-laden guitar tones. "The soundless dawn came alive as cities began to mark the horizon" is the lost soundtrack to a great, gladiator-filled battle sequence, its peaks and valleys rising and falling like sharpened blades through the dusky desert sky. They can't help but sound massive; even At the Soundless Dawn's quietest, most nuanced moments are like the eerie calm before the most awe-inspiring electrical storm you've ever seen.

The somber sense of impending doom that pervades At the Soundless Dawn is perhaps its most intriguing facet, as well as a leaden albatross hanging around its neck. The album never presents itself as anything other than a fully realized whole -- which is fine, if carefully crafted, prog-resplendent composition is your cup of tea. In the event that it's not, you're left with an impenetrable wall of sound. At the Soundless Dawn is, by design, a take it or leave it affair -- you'll either be ensnared from the start, or you won't even notice as its immeasurable figure approaches from the horizon.

-- Jason Jackowiak

"Modern Fix Interview"

by PR!

It’s 11pm. The lights are off, so the only glow in the room comes from the computer screen. It’s windy and raining outside and seemingly just as cold inside, which explains my sweatshirt and beanie. The coffee machine idles on warm, mixing the smokey air with stale whiffs of store brand Columbian. And now, the Red Sparowes make sense to me. I understand the function; I may not “get it”, but I understand in a way that a cat, while having no comprehension of even the most simplistic fundamentals of electricity, understands that the top of the TV is a warm place to lay and languor. Fans of Red Sparowes harps on their fluidity, their “epicness”, but they’re more of a soundtrack to life’s formidable conclusion. There are no playful electronic parts (ala M83) or strong prog rock vocals (akin to The Mars Volta). Instead, the listener gets positioned into the sidecar of a motorcycle, with a full view of the direction but no real control or idea on how they’ll get there. Their debut album, “At The Soundless Dawn” comes off as passive-aggressive music. Not something you can stick into a friends CD player on the way to the mall, exclaiming “check this shit out, bro!” But it’s also not too dreamy and saturating, avoiding the bleak dance pop fabric that similar acts tend to weave themselves into. It’s members, with résumé’s that include Neurosis, Isis, Halifax Pier and The Cignal, will have you considering, but thankfully not hearing, a sound akin to any of the groups mentioned. This is not your typical Neurot band, but why should it be? Instrumental without being so (there are lyrics seasoned here and there), the Red Sparowes are your exhaustion of everyday music and the sampling of the new metaphor that is orchestrated rock. Perhaps a few words with the band?

Since most of the members have current or past big name bands, I’ve got to ask; is Red Sparowes a project or an active group?
Red Sparowes is an active group; we are very full time, although touring revolves around our respective Neurosis and Isis duties, but that still leaves more than enough time for us to accomplish what we need to.

Why “Sparowes” and not “Sparrows”? What does Red Sparowes mean, anyways?
The original idea of using the word ‘sparrows’ came from the words of T.S. Eliot; the imagery his writings conjures felt very fitting to the idea and sound of our group. We added red to that because it is more focused, presenting a mood or tone to the name, as well as making it more unique. The spelling for ‘sparowes’ was taken from the old English spelling, also more identifying; it fit better in that regard.

Ah. So, was the lack of lead vocals in Red Sparowes an active or a passive decision?
There actually are vocals on this recording, although treated and effected, they blend seamlessly into varying parts of the music. The lack of using “lead vocals” was a very active decision. We have always been very up front about the fact that we may decide to use more obvious vocals in our music, but it will come about when it feels natural, when we feel it is right for us.

Will there be any vinyl pressings of current or future releases?
Yes, Robotic Empire is releasing “At the Soundless Dawn” in the US on vinyl accompanying the CD release, as well a split 12” with Gregor Samsa containing one new song and a demo version of one of the CD songs. Hypertension will be releasing the full length European vinyl, which will also be different from the US version.

Nice. Speaking of, it feels like there is a underlying theme behind “At the Soundless Dawn”...?
There is an underlying theme to this record. The literature on the subject is almost limitless, but it basically breaks down to this: There have previously been five “mass extinction events” on earth that have been scientifically realized, dating back from 440 million years ago. These events have resulted in the extinction of 19% - 54% of all species on earth at each specific time period. The first five events have been cause by natural elements, including the known impacts with meteors and the like. We are currently experiencing the sixth extinction event, which is the first one to be caused by a single species on our planet, which happens to be humanity. - Modern Fix

"Drowned In Sound review"

For as long as I can remember, bands with ludicrously long song titles have never really accomplished much. Fact: ‘Angels’ is, like, the best song ever. With that in mind, Red Sparowes might as well chuck the towel in now.

An unprecedented move it may be, but it seems right to list this album’s songs in their entirety. So, here goes:

(1) Alone and unaware, the landscape was transformed in front of our eyes.
(2) Buildings began to stretch wide across the sky, and the air filled with a reddish glow.
(3) The soundless dawn came alive as cities began to mark the horizon.
(4) Mechanical sounds cascaded through the city walls and everyone reveled in their ignorance.
(5) A brief moment of clarity broke through the deafening hum, but it was too late.
(6) Our happiest days slowly began to turn into dust.
(7) The sixth extinction crept up slowly, like sunlight through the shutters, as we looked back in regret.

Now that lot isn’t going to fit on the case of a 90-minute TDK cassette, is it? Such titles mean two things: one, that we’re almost certainly in the company of a post-rock band (we are) and two, that said band has far too much time on their hands. Only, they don’t – three of these five band members are culled from Neurosis (ish) and Isis, both of which have been busy promoting recent releases. Which leads to another Fact: this record is far too accomplished for it to be subjected to mere side-project appreciation. Red Sparowes are a proper band, whatever that means, and these songs are as worthy of your attention as any penned by the aforementioned titans. Sure, there’s a degree of pretension evident in those titles, but if you’ve got it, flaunt it.

At just over an hour long, At The Soundless Dawn is a sprawling, effortlessly epic work that requires absorption; you can not hope to gain anything from it through skip listening or by playing it whilst washing up, or vacuuming, or reading the Monday jobs section. This needs time, and love, and absolute attention. It doesn't ape Explosions In The Sky; it launches bright new fireworks of its own.

Songs sink in real slow, each one both haunting and humbling, until they reach a point where no words of critical prose can touch them. I could sit here now offer an opinion that these songs aren't radically different enough from much of today’s post-rockers’ efforts to warrant immediate investigation. Yeah, I could, but why bother? These aren’t songs in the same way as Williams’ crowning glory; they’re as anomalous, and as alive, as his are bland and soulless. They breathe in time with the listener, pulses synchronising, heart rate slowing.

Highlights? This doesn’t work in such a way - At The Soundless Dawn really does need to be swallowed whole. Breaking it down into seven separate components only hinders the reviewing process. Besides, do you really want to read an analysis of each of the above tracks? No. What you want to know is whether or not this is worthy of your hard-won spare cash, right?

Fact: pick up the towel and help this record of immeasurable beauty shift sizeable units. Id does warrant immediate investigation. It won’t outsell ‘Angels’, granted, but it’ll have Heaven’s occupants weeping until the dawn breaks into song once more.

Author: Michael Diver -


At The Soundless Dawn CD, Neurot Recordings
At The Soundless Dawn LP, Robotic Empire
Spit EP w/ Gregor Samsa LP, Robotic Empire
Split EP w/ Grails LP Robotic Empire


Feeling a bit camera shy


There just might be a certain warped truth to the phrase “guilt by association.” As in the case of Red Sparowes, its formal associations
with such heavy, propulsive bands as Isis, Neurosis, Angel Hair and Pleasure Forever would lead you to expect that the Los Angeles quintet’s debut would be a masterfully crafted epic of primal urgency.

It is.

However, Red Sparowes is epic without bombast, heavy without a single
bar-chord riff and eviscerating without any clearly audible vocals. The
chiming, spindly layers of effect-laden guitars and the swinging,
entrancing drums on its Neurot Recordings debut At the Soundless Dawn
create textures reminiscent of Goblin, Tones on Tail and
early Sonic Youth. Its attack is syrupy and serpentine; subtle but
frighteningly deliberate.