Reflectionless, the third album from Set And Setting, can be a tricky listen. Not because it’s some impenetrable creation, but due to the music’s labyrinth-like depth. That’s partially from being purely instrumental, reinforcing the necessity of having a keen ear, and also from the inclusion of two drummers in the band. They don’t just mimic each other’s beats, but operate with their own agenda, one which has a complex structure.
That’s where having a keen ear comes in, because it can be counterproductive if the proper attention isn’t paid to it. There’s a good chance someone won’t catch the rhythmic branching off on “…The Idyllic Realm,” as its subtle approach took a few times for this writer to notice. That’s not a knock, but a reward for those willing to dig in and notice those irregularities.
When the drummers are in sync, especially when the tempos are flying, the massive hook of the music is apparent. That leads into the band skirting away from a rock setting into something a bit metallic, though they aren’t a metal band in the strictest definition of the genre. A rock/metal hybrid perhaps, but operating a space somewhere near the dividing line of the two.
On Reflectionless, Set And Setting keep away from the double-digit lengths that occasionally overwhelmed their last album, A Vivid Memory. What would be enormous tracks are split in half, connected yet written as to also be able to be judged on their own accord. Doing this gives what is essentially five minutes of build-up on “Specular Wavefront of…” a sense of logic when the charging stampede of “…The Mirrored Self” comes next.
Even in its heaviest moments, Set And Setting doesn’t abandon the surreal tranquility they excel at, letting pleasant tracks like “Incandescent Gleam” and “Eternal Pendulum” allow for it. Two drummers in a band is a good marketing tool; a talking point to plaster on press releases or an obvious question that dozens of interviewers can ask. The bands worth checking out take that, make the songwriting showy, yet not overly technical, and make an adventurous, well-crafted record, as Set And Setting do on Reflectionless.
(released January 27, 2017)