An album made as a gift to a newborn son is undoubtedly going to be an emotional affair but the key is that it doesn’t slip into overly-sentimental waters. In the case of Unconditional Arms’ ‘Kinship’ that tricky obstacle is negotiated by making it an entirely instrumental affair. A good move from this Californian band, as it happens.
‘Kinship’ is strongly influenced by post-rock giants such as Explosions In The Sky and Godspeed You! Black Emperor; two outfits not renown for looking on the bright side of life. However, the actual mood of the album is an appropriately celebratory one, with each ringing guitar figure and percussion crescendo casting a bright glow over proceedings, as befits the occasion. After the wind tunnel approach of ‘The Family Tree’, the towering ‘Television On The Weekends’ dazzles with its slow-building chimes and triumphant aura. If the excess of ‘First Love’ over-eggs the pudding, then the contrasting shimmer of ‘Transition And Finality’ provides a fine antidote. ‘Conscious Whirr’ is another track which concentrates on the loud end of the spectrum but at its beating heart is a lovely melody. This just leaves the acoustic resonance of ‘Rest’ to end this strong instrumental album on a subtle, fragrant note.
If you weren’t aware of the inspirational backstory to ‘Kinship’ this could, in fairness, be an album about any dramatic event you could think of. However, the final word should be reserved from band member and proud father Jeff Wright: “lyrics just couldn’t convey the incalculable emotions a new child presents”.
Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You! Black Emperor, Raymond Scott Woolson