There’s great beauty to be found in music where, in the absence of lyrics, storytelling is left to mood-setting instruments, blended melodies, and momentary silence. When properly channeled, instrumental music can translate a cohesive vision and be more than serviceable background noise. Texas-based, instrumental rock band My Education has made such achievement in their new LP, Schiphol.
Most of the nine tracks demand repeat plays, yet lead single “Open Marriages” immediately engages with a stomping energy thanks to the layered and emphatic use of guitars. The song nails a cinematic vibe and could easily go with a montage showing a main character’s thought process or a series of dramatic actions. It’s edgy but not aggressive, with drums and cymbals guiding the overall pace. Keyboards sharpen the effect, while the viola at the midway break provides a necessary breather before the unrelenting finish.
“This Time Let's Rock” is among the slowest-paced on the record and also the heaviest. A shared focus on guitar and viola atop beating drums sets a relaxing mood before a harsh heel-turn, where rising electric guitar riffs infuse a sinister vibe and hard rock pulse.
Few tracks match “Class A” in touching the emotions. It begins with a light, four-note guitar solo, followed by drums that add weight alongside the soft but increasingly powerful, low-pitched melodies of the viola. As the focus weaves in and out of the guitar foundation, the overlapping instruments convey a somber feel with hints of nostalgic longing. This sensation becomes more palpable when a second, subtle guitar gradually takes over for the viola, bringing a feeling of catharsis. It’s a captivating number, to be sure, emoting sadness and courage.
The compositions that make up Schiphol are pointed in how instruments blend together purposefully, sometimes to disjointed effects but often with transcendent results.
While “Coordinates” isn’t overly impressive for its length—in that there are fewer highs to speak of— the haunting reprise that closes the album is a standout track. With guitars and drums stripped away, the piano notes and strings have more punch in this opera-like space than when merged with other instruments in the original song. It is both a strong finish and an example of how scaling back on resources need not be an unwelcome sacrifice.
The compositions that make up Schiphol are pointed in how instruments blend together purposefully, sometimes to disjointed effects but often with transcendent results. Listeners will have little difficulty envisioning most songs in specific cinematic settings, which is one of the greatest compliments that could be made on the album’s behalf—the other being that its content rarely stagnates.
8,025 out of 10,000 Rawckus Kung Fu Throwing Stars