STATE RIVER WIDENING Unsung Couples (Gold Hole Recordings)
STATE RIVER WIDENING Your Chance Ended There (Liquefaction Empire)
These two limited edition 7" singles represent (give or take their contribution to the "Will Our Children Thank Us?" compilation) the entire recorded output of London trio State River Widening. They tread similar post rock waters to the mighty Godspeed You Black Emperor! and Tortoise, although with their more acoustic leanings the NME's description of them as Mogwai meeting Simon & Garfunkel is as appropriate as any. The first I heard of them was "Unsung Couples", on a tape of John Peel show extracts kindly sent to me by Peter Jolly, and lo and behold I was mesmerised. Their sound is gentler and more organic than Mogwai's, filled with exquisitely engineered interlocking melodies, and both "Unsung Couples" and its b-side, "Interlaken" (which, curiously enough, features a sample of passing trains, just like the Godspeed album raved about above) demonstrate the State River Widening effect at its most immaculate.
The three tracks on "Your Chance Ended There" shuffle things around even further - there's some typically Tortoisean percussion work, but the tunes aren't laced with the same industrial-grade addictiveness. Still, even at less than their considerable best State River Widening are capable of weaving work filled with fascination.
Both these singles arrived with hand-numbered art prints (another Godspeed-type world domination tactic), and are part of limited pressings of 1000 copies of "Unsung Couples" and 600 of "Your Chance Ended There". But (hopefully!) you needn't send off silly money to mail order record vendors to sample a fix of State River Widening, as their debut album is scheduled for release in late September. Watch this space, hopefully.
STATE RIVER WIDENING State River Widening (Rocket Girl)
Following their frankly amazing debut 7", "Unsung Couples", I was expecting great things from the first album by this instrumental trio, whose members are more conventionally employed with the bands Ellis Island Sound and The Wisdom Of Harry. Allegedly recorded in a partially-disused outer London ex-works shed using primitive microphones, "State River Widening" wraps up 45 minutes of the bands semi-acoustic post-rocking, a noise that suggests Tortoise playing an impromptu unplugged gig on a back porch somewhere in the Midwest, all fully interlocking guitar lines and meticulously worked-through melodies.
Never less than pleasant, "State River Widening" tragically lacks some magical x-factor that made "Unsung Couples" so marvellous. Maybe it's all too studied: where that song sounded like it was hurtling and skimming along the surface of greatness seven of the eight tracks here seem to be exercises from the later pages of some "Play Post-Rock In A Day" tuition manual. The exception is the sublime, melodica-driven "Interlaken", previously issued on the b-side of "Unsung Couples", which, nevertheless, almost justifies the purchase price on its own. Elsewhere, "State River Widening" just doesn't deliver the kind of transcendental experience that, with the wind behind them, this band are easily capable of.