New Album From And So I Watch You From Afar ‘Jettison’
Today, legendary Belfast, Ireland based instrumental outfit And So I Watch You From Afar has shared their ambitious new multimedia album Jettison. Through 40 minutes of sonic exploration spread across nine distinct parts and a visual accompaniment by artist Sam Wiehl, Jettison traverses the various shades of ASIWYFA’s euphoric instrumental output. The Arco String Quartet adds moments of ethereal elegance, juxtaposed against cryptic dialogue by Emma Ruth Rundle and Neil Fallon throughout the album.
On the scope of the album, the band had this to say:
“Nothing in our repertoire comes close to the ambition of this latest project—the multimedia piece Jettison. The album is a memorable experience that transports the listener away from the tumultuous times and into a blissful musical utopia.”
Over the last 16 years, Northern Ireland’s instrumental rock quartet And So I Watch You From Afar has defied the layman’s definition of post-rock by absorbing new ideas and pushing the boundaries of their intricate and ecstatic guitar-based compositions. Crashing out of the gate with the big-riff worship and arena-level melodic heroics of their eponymous debut, ASIWYFA have continuously introduced new spins on their original sound while simultaneously expanding their sonic palette with every new album, taking in and repurposing everything from African highlife to Irish trad to the weirdo math-rock of the late ‘90s / early ‘00s. But nothing in their repertoire comes close to the ambition and scale of their latest project—the multimedia piece Jettison. Conceived by And So I Watch You From Afar’s guitarist Rory Friers and brought to life by the band, orchestrator Connor O’Boyle, the Arco String Quartet, and visual artist Sam Wiehl, Jettison is a fusion of ASIWYFA’s life-affirming musical acrobatics, the sweeping grandeur of film scores, and the surreal and sublime capabilities of moving pictures.
The initial motivation behind Jettison was simple. “Making a longer piece of music was something I’d wanted to do for a long time,” Friers says. “I always liked albums and pieces of music that gave you a bigger space to get lost in.” He and his bandmate, guitarist Niall Kennedy, had recently composed the score for The Cured (2017), which whetted their appetite for orchestrating string parts and working on a scale that involved recurring melodic themes and long-arc musical developments. “I loved the idea of reverse engineering a score, flipping it on its head, and having Sam create the visual narrative to the music,” Friers says of his initial vision. As he set to work in early 2018, Friers hoped this ambitious new project would ultimately serve as a counterweight to the tense social climate—a way to “jettison” the anger and strife of the times. It also proved to be a malleable piece, one that evolved and reacted to both personal developments and global events, first with the loss of a dear friend of the band shortly before Jettison’s live debut and again after subsequent performances were canceled due to the onset of the pandemic in early 2020. Though it was always intended to serve as a life-affirming work full of rapturous energy, these tragedies and hardships brought occasional dashes of melancholy to Jettison, bringing the overall sense of triumph and wonder into greater relief.
The Jettison stage is set with the peaceful opening piano chords and orchestral stirrings of “Dive Pt1” before the lift-off commences on “Dive Pt2,” where Friers and Kennedy are joined by their compatriots Chris Wee on drums and Johnny Adger on bass. From there, the 40-minute, nine-part journey of Jettison traverses the various shades of ASIWYFA’s euphoric instrumentals imbued by the ethereal elegance of the Arco String Quartet. Brief snippets of cryptic dialogue by Emma Ruth Rundle and Neil Fallon are sprinkled throughout the album, nudging the listener along the path like guideposts, hinting at a larger storyline and further coloring the experience while still allowing an overall sense of mystery to surround the composition. Whether it’s the staccato guitars and pedalboard manipulations of “Lung,” the dubby bass and sparse folk melodies of “In Air,” the anthemic spirit of “Emerge,” or the perfect symbiosis of classic ASIWYFA electric jubilance and the Arco String Quartet’s delicate grace, the various chapters of Jettison retain the spirit and timbre of ASIWYFA while expanding the possibilities of their sound and hyper-saturating the senses through supplementary instrumentation.
Jettison is by no means a normal ASIWYFA album. Rather, it is a very deliberate departure as opposed to an evolutionary step to increasingly ambitious, complex, and conceptual work. The full Jettison experience, replete with Wiehl’s visuals and the string accompaniments, will only happen occasionally, such as the full-house October 2021 performance at The Queen Elizabeth Hall at London’s Southbank Centre. Yet even in the album format, Jettison is a special experience, one that transports the listener away from the tumultuous times and into a blissful musical utopia. Equal Vision Records is proud to present this document of the aural component of Jettison to the world on CD, LP, and digital platforms on February 18, 2022.