Sines is the eagerly awaited fourth album from post-rock trio Jakob and when I say awaited, I mean it! Fans have waited eight years for new music. Jakob's previous release, Solace, was released all the way back in 2006. Of course I am biased because I'm a New Zealander, but I honestly think Jakob are the best in the world at what they do.
I share this review pretty late because vinyl pressing was delayed, causing my precious double LP copy to arrive four weeks later than expected. I've listened to the digital download many times, but I wanted to be able to read through the liner notes before I write my review.
I needn't have waited. I already knew that Wellington composer and past collaborator Rhian Sheehan had a part to play in the arrangements on this album. His touch is noticeable. Each song seems to be more crafted than those from Jakob's back catalogue. Sheehan also organised the strings sections that feature on the tracks “Emergent” and “Harmonia”. The stringed sextet really make a difference to the sound. There is a glimmering brightness in the midst of the swells and waves.
The additions of strings adds an ephemeral dose of magic to the music, as does the addition of piano on “Darkness”. It's these small changes that help Sines stand out as a progressive step for Jakob. The strings and keys are delicate and subtle, yet make a noticeable difference.
And of course, let's not forget the music made by the three band members themselves. Without them the additional touches are worthless. They have the same formula that they’ve used in the past: Cultivate a riff or a beat. Nurture it. Let it grow and thrive and establish roots. Let it sizzle and hum and gain momentum, wailing and looping and building. And when the simmering and bubbling is about to overflow, unleash it.
The album highlight for me is the track “Emergent”. It stands out as quite a departure from the other songs because it doesn’t feature any drums, and because of the aforementioned stringed accompaniment. It’s a beautiful, tender track that almost makes your eyes do that weird wet thing that you get when you cut onions.
Sines is instantly recognisable as a release from Jakob. They are not re-inventing themselves. There is no risk of offending their established fan base. Sines is a continuation and improvement of an already perfect formula. By recruiting additional musicians to help with the recording and crafting of the album, Jakob have built on their already impressive reputation and cemented themselves as one of the best post-rock bands out there.