Unbeknown to most folks, the smallish, farmish town of Woodland, California has a surprisingly varied music scene. There are a handful of death metal bands, some rap groups (posses?), and some rather complex progressive rock outfits. The band Living With Giants is one of the more unique groups in town in that they are the only post-rock band (I believe).
The World Is Held By A Taut String is first proper album by the band and the first since the band’s mastermind, Ryan Mannie, put out a compilation of Garageband generated solo tracks he called Songs for a Girl under the Living With Giants moniker in 2009. It is an album that immerses and, at times, overwhelms the listener in what the band describe as, “an emotional roller coaster of sounds that reflects life and the human experience.” This is a spot on description.
While the The World is only made up of four tracks, they are lengthy musical journeys that take a listener to a deep emotional brink and back several times. The first, and longest track, “Fade To Dusk,” is the auditory equivalent of witnessing the most beautiful sunset you’ve ever seen violently explode in front of your eyes which then dims to reveal an even more beautiful star-filled sky before igniting into a fiery rain. The final track, “Farewell Atmosphere, Farewell World, Farewell Farewell” is the perfect antithesis in that it brings the perfect soundtrack to an involuntary internal reflection as Mannie and second guitarist Zach Bruno trade-off ethereal guitar lines.
The band certainly does musically reference their influences as their overall sound can’t help but make one think of bands like Explosions In The Sky and Sigur Ros. In short, they are an ambient post rock band, but where I feel the way they stand out from the numerous other bands in the ever-expanding instrumental post rock pool is that Living With Giants make the listener forget that there are not vocals within the music. Mannie and Bruno take over the melody of a singer as the rhythm section, bassist Will Divine and drummer Carver Simmons, take the attention of metal heads yearning for some cookie monster vocals.