Strangers Die Every Day: Aperture for Departure


There are two approaches to marrying rock and classical. The first takes the worst of both and dummies them down for the least common denominator. Trans-Siberian Orchestra and Metallica’s S&M have more in common with those old Hooked on Classics albums from the early 80s than they do with either classical or rock. They merely try to superimpose one genre onto the other and call it a marriage, but the simple fact is, it’s not. However, for those interested in taking a step outside the mainstream, the relationship between the genres did finally come to fruition…in Godspeed You! Black Emperor. But now, Strangers Die Every Day has succeeded in this as well.

It may seem that being the other band in the genre is a slap in the face, but considering how earth-shaking Godspeed and the related A Silver Mt Zion project are, being second is hardly a point against Strangers Die Every Day. They address the glaring weanesses of both rock and classical, rock’s being its inability to break out of its own confines and be truly dynamic and classical’s is that it usually feels like the notes are being read rather than experienced.

Aperture for Departure, on the other hand allows the rock to slip its bonds and explore a broader musical landscape. At the same time, it loosens classical up with an off-kilter rawness that typical classical performances miss. It derives its dark mood from the classical layer while getting its drive and its edge from the rock rhythms beneath. On each track, the band strives more for emotional range than technical perfection, recognizing that rock’s beauty stems from being blemished not pristine. This allows the music to build into manic noise or restrain itself to quiet passages that have real meaning to the listener, the rock listener in particular.

Overall, Aperture for Departure is classical in a technical sense, but its heart is rock n roll. The band’s willingness to be loose and noisy makes for a vulgar classical even when the rock parts aren’t overt. It is not simply classical music played with rock instruments, but its own genre that recognizes the two can enhance each other. It finds a common ground between them that has an almost folk nature in its connection with its listeners. No, it’s not quite Godspeed, but it’s very, very close, making it not just one of the most ambitious albums I’ve heard in some time, but also one of the best. There was only one 30 second passage on the whole album that failed to completely captivate me. It’s that good from start to finish.

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