Representing two faces on the Topshelf Records roster of post-hardcore, The Saddest Landscape and My Fictions have brought us a three-course meal of tracks on their new split When You Are Close, I Am Gone. If you’re not already familiar with either band, I’d dare say both bands’ contributions here make for a good place to start. But the collaborative nature of the split – topped off by the joint closer in the bunch – is what makes this a great little taste of both bands.
My Fictions’ “You Never Stay” is abrasive and blistering – much like the bulk of their Topshelf debut EP Always Trapped – reminding us of the attack of Converge laced with dissonant guitars, grisly vocals and a heaping of relentless percussion. It’s short and sweet, and hopefully some sort of bridge between the EP and the band’s forthcoming LP. The Saddest Landscape show more of their mastery of tension on “Loss Will Find Us”, swelling and swinging with shouted vocals and bombastic guitars that tease us into abrasion with quick bursts of percussive fits. This track definitely has some of the memorable elements that TSL brings to the table more often than not, but it feels a little disjointed at times.
The final track, “When You Are Close, I Am Gone”, is a combination piece between the two groups. A quick glance at the 13-minute plus run time is an interesting declaration for two bands who generally run under the four-minute mark for songs. That being said, the first several minutes drone over the same riff and drum part before building into a slow, deliberate chorus that transforms the prior portion into something suspenseful and eventually full of intensity as the tempo picks up. The piece moves through several ideas and repeats things here and there, feeling more like a composition and less like a song either would write on their own. At first listen, it is a bit of a task and possibly a bit too long for its own good, but many of the parts on their own nail the emotion of each band in a fairly successful fashion. In the end, it is a pretty cool attempt at collaboration in its truest form, even if it does perhaps feel a little bloated at times.
When You Are Close, I Am Gone is both a fair introduction and a reasonably ambitious collection of music from a creative sense. Even as bands before them have had guest members on songs, the sense of a true combination in the closer is admirable and appreciated as an artistic angle. For what it’s worth though, don’t sleep on either of these bands – or for that matter, this split.