The band is able to combine a lot of things that make a good album; artwork, “story” and music. And thus we want to talk about all of these things.
The artwork for one of the 50 handmade CDs is awesome. The first glimpse is already very fine, a simple piece of paper folded up in order to house everything inside and then closed with a real colored wax-seal. Inside, you find a bunch of small sheets inside that are made to look old and give you details about the story of the record; a photo with a detail and a secret-conspiring numbering, and of course the CD in a separate paperback. Everybody purveys an aura of having stepped into a secret story you should not get involved with.
The story: The sheets show you that “Hidden Code” is set in San Francisco in the 60s and is the story of a man and woman called Penelope. She is in this a complicated relationship and even starts to doubt her very own existence. Many details are related on the numerous small sheets inside the paper envelope. Here we see how story and artwork are interwoven, which is even deepened, when thinking about the vocal samples used in some moments of the record which also emanate the feeling of being inside the story.
The music: As already mentions, the band uses vocal samples as the music is instrumental, apart from the second song “Mistake, Lights and Breaths” which features some female vocals. Other than that, only the instruments carry the story. They paint bright spots with the use of the cymbals, harsh guitar motifs are used to bring in some dark colors (corresponding with some of the darker parts of the story). Each instrument is used to contribute to the story which is remarkable as it once again clarifies this intersection of all three levels of the record.
Nevertheless the songs also stand on their own without the story-background or the connections to the artwork. This is just simply great post-rock very much like the early good Constellation releases. The quartet shows a deep understanding how to use their instruments very effectively and one of their biggest strengths is their willingness to create that atmosphere together – no one tries to outshine the other.
Moments of pure intimacy are placed amid torrents of dark sparkles, diamonds in the rough are hidden beneath some heavy grains of sand. “Hidden Code” may be a late-comer for those post-rock lists this year, but one should keep an eye open for further miracles of three-fold glories by Italian quartet Quiet is the New Loud.