From experimental rock to swirling prog to meditative mood music and post-rock at large, Glaston from Zurich in Switzerland run an impressively wide gamut on 2017’s Inhale / Exhale. Less histrionic than 2014’s grisly Sailing Stormy Waters, Inhale / Exhale has a rugged but decidedly habitable feel, craggy but markedly earthbound. Though the record’s cohesion in the midst of its ever-changing sound is plenty impressive, each constituent part, too, is thrilling. So much post-rock leaves the listener waiting around for the good bit to kick in; Glaston’s constantly changing sound makes every moment arresting, not simply the big crescendos. For all its sparseness and delicacy, nearly every moment on Inhale / Exhale is suffused with a sort of looming dread. And when it hits, it hits hard.
You can take your pick on the album’s most stunning segment — the gnarled tangle of guitar and piano interaction on opener “Game of Tones”, the towering symphonic blast of “Levitating”, the punishing back half of “Ritou”. The many quiet moments prove just as rich and striking, suffusing the disc with rays of light to help offset the wide swaths of darkness. They push sounds nimbly in and out of the mix without ever risking overload, and while there’s plenty of virtuosity bubbling under the surface —particularly on the trickily fingerpicked closer “In the End“ — there’s little flash to be found, all instruments joined in service of the overall picture. From swirling psych to lilting modern classical-inflected strings, the dynamics are constantly in motion, but everything slots together just so. All encompassing and utterly engrossing, Inhale / Exhale proves a stirring triumph from one of rock’s great unsung ensembles.