Best Of 2015
The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die followed up their debut this year with a record that defies pigeonholes.
Words: Will Richards.
The two year gap between The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die’s debut ‘Whenever, If Ever’ and follow-up LP ‘Harmlessness’ wasn’t spent quietly. A whole host of singles, 7” splits and a collaborative EP with spoken word artist Chris Zizzamia, ‘Between Bodies’, arrived in this time.
As well as the album’s title (a hark back to 2010 EP ‘Formlessness’), the record is packed full of references to the band’s earlier material – the ‘blank’ series of instrumentals continues with #11, and a chorus and volcanic theme are borrowed from ‘Formlessness’ track ‘Eyjafjallajökull Dance’ in ‘Ra Patera…’. It’s clear that although The World Is… are clearly always developing, there are themes that tie everything together.
The links to ‘Formlessness’ mostly come from the re-introduction of original member Tyler Bussey to the band after a five-year absence. Guitarist Derrick Shanholtzer-Dvorak explains that despite the break, the time period spent without Bussey faded into nothing when ‘Harmlessness’ started coming together. “It was like picking up where we left off.”
“We are constantly writing and recording new material. Some of those tracks [released between the two LPs] were written after ‘Harmlessness’, some of ‘Harmlessness’ was written for ‘Whenever, If Ever’,” explains Shanholtzer-Dvorak, and the band’s reluctance to separate their material into clear, defined pieces adds to the feeling of unity.
The band have been constantly on tour since the release of ‘Harmlessness’, taking in dates with Foxing, Brightside, Pianos Become The Teeth and more, and Shanholtzer-Dvorak can see the progress the album has signified for the band, even if it’s coming slowly. “Nothing has drastically changed; we are playing the same spots we did last year, maybe a few more heads in the door.” That change doesn’t seem to be something that would suit the band though; more just little tweaks, an extra member here or there, an introduction of a new element or style to their sound. Anything else would do a disservice to their vastly promising earlier material, which has been built upon and improved with every subsequent release. ‘Harmlessness’ simply continues this trajectory.
The band’s well-documented army of members meant studio time was hard to come by for ‘Harmlessness’, but they made the most of a non-stop month at the desk of guitarist Chris Teti, who records all the band’s material. Shanholtzer-Dvorak reveals there are “5 or 6” songs from those sessions, in which they tracked for 13 hours a day, every day, that didn’t make it on. It’s not unlikely that those songs will surface in the future, just as songs written for ‘Whenever, If Ever’ have found a home on LP2, and the ball is evidently already rolling for whatever comes after ‘Harmlessness’.
As the ‘emo revival’ banner fades into irrelevance going into 2016, The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die have made a second album that defies labels and incorporates everything from indie rock to hardcore to swirling post-rock without a care or need to be categorised. It’s this that makes them stand out from the scene they were inducted into fronting, and not be held back by preconceptions.