“All of a Sudden I Have to Write Everything

Tom Pilcher

Since it’s eighth week and everything, I’ve found myself looking for music to do homework to more and more frequently. This is a very specific type of music; as much as I would like to, I can’t really accomplish anything while listening to Titus Andronicus or The Hold Steady, so I typically turn to instrumental music.
Texas quartet Explosions in the Sky work wonderfully for eighth week homework loads, and for pretty much any other week, too. While the band utilizes a pretty standard rock instrumentation of three guitars and drums – no vocals, mind you – their sound blurs the lines between composed classical music, ambient sounds and traditional indie rock. Perhaps it’s best to describe their music more in terms of adjectives: cathartic, cinematic and experimental come to mind immediately.
“All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone,” their six-track 2007 album, is a great starter for new listeners. Oscillating from eerie and ambient to driving and dramatic often in the span of one song, EITS carve out their own unique niche in the world of traditional rock or indie rock throughout the six tracks. The band often relies more on textural effects and gradually developing, repeated, layered figures to build their songs, almost completely eschewing traditional verse-chorus structures.
A prime example of the quartet’s textural work, “It’s Natural to Be Afraid” begins with ominous guitar patterns over low piano chords that slowly begin to fade into an all-encompassing distorted guitar fuzz. The fuzz texture soon takes over before evolving into the song’s more uplifting second half that, in turn, eventually crescendos into a dramatic full band ending.
Like their other four proper studio albums, the album can – and should – be listened to beginning-to-end as one extended composition, with varying moods, patterns and phrases, like any proper classical composition. However, these four Texans feel much more approachable and somehow more accessible than most classical or even contemporary composers.
So, when you’re having a tough time concentrating on that eighth week homework load while jamming to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” try one of Explosions in the Sky’s albums on for size and get lost in the atmospheric guitars, driving melodies and evocative moods. Then maybe that philosophy paper will write itself!