Review: Shivver Cliffs - "The Hills Cast Shadows"

Shivver Cliffs - The Hills Cast Shadows
(2017 Self-Released)

Do it big for ambition's sake. 

Reclaiming a sense of self-indulgent scale brandished by the blog-rock wave of the mid-00s, Missouri's Shivver Cliffs ascends to the lofty idealism of Sigur Ros and Broken Social Scene's art-pop bombast while at the same time harnessing the sort of desolate dark matter that fills the landscapes of Bjork's Medulla. The Hills Cast Shadows is the project's first official release, a 7-track LP that doesn't waste time with pleasantries or first impressions. Album opener "Drift Close In" weighs in at a hefty 11 minutes, eroding from a monolithic crawl of cinematic strings to the fragmented remains of Star Wars droid warble. Midway into the track, Shivver Cliffs emerges from the synthesized rubble, a twangy bass and faint piano mouthing spacey riffs as they whisper clipped phrases into an echoing mic. Trudging your way through a blizzard of harmony, these verses, though distant, feel like a signal flare; a sign of help on the horizon.

"repair the puzzle
of broken windows on your floor" 

The bizarro-folk swell of "Ain't No Mountain Can't Crush My Home" finds The Hills Cast Shadows at its most ambitious. Dissonant slide guitar riffs are warped into sourness around their resonant acoustic framework, steering the cut into uncharted territory. Sparkling treble drips from stalactites. Unseen insects skitter across granite walls. Shivver Cliffs peaks miles from civilization, contrasting anthemic heights with subterranean ambience.

The Hills ends with its most accessible offering: "Television Dreams". Looping stray noodles of plucked improv, the closer is is knotted together by the occasional vapor of rhythm tapped out on a drum machine. This is the sort of music you could inhale, wintry drainage rattling in your chest. Clouds form on each frosty breath.

"I'm bathing later every single day
Using shower handles as my crutch"