Ranges are a post-rock act from Bozeman, Montana who started out as a trio, and have recently expanded to a 5-piece so that they can play live. Together they write themed instrumental music that is often accompanied by visuals of some kind. Some themes of their past projects have been the Montana ranges, the solar system, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s teachings about taking action when you see something wrong. Recently Ranges and some other artists from the region were asked to each contribute to collection that explored the dichotomy of night and day. Ranges’ entry resulted in their latest single, ‘Night & Day’.
I’ve classified this write up as an album review, but in reality it’s a song review. That said, this song is longer than many EPs that I review here anyway. Like the song ‘Dominion’ by Jakob, ‘Night & Day’ is big enough to be a stand alone release without needing the context of an album to sit within.
The song last 24 minutes, representing the 24 hours of the day. Listen closely and you may be able to hear changes that signify different parts of the day, like sunrise or sunset.
The song begins soft, slowly building. After a few minutes things begin to perk up with a piano ostinato, a mantra that slowly ebbs in and out. I interpret this part as birds chirping for the dawn chorus. My favourite part is a stark cut out around the five minute mark with just an electric drum beat and the piano ostinato. Proper drums enter a minute later, solidifying the sound. The song sounds quite uplifting as it increases in intensity.
Around the 7-9 minute mark the piano drops out and the music gets heavier. The tone changes at exactly half way. The soft picking transitions into soaring overdriven guitars and crashing crescendos. The mood becomes cyclical, with tender breaks that launch into a powerful wash. Soaring guitars fly over heavily struck drums. At 18 minutes the mood drops back to a more solemn tone as the day breaks and the sun sets. A guitar bend could just as well be a Coyote howling in the moonlight. The music slowly begins to settle and simplify as it progresses towards the end, ending in eerie swells and light feedback.
A nice touch is that the song was written to loop back on itself continuously, like the cycle of night and day, so if you listen to it on repeat you won’t be able to tell where it starts and finishes.
One reason I like Ranges so much is because they’re more than just a band that makes music. Their work is often part of a bigger project. For ‘Night & Day’, Ranges, along with other artists, were asked to create art inspired by the theme, in any medium they wish. Other past projects include providing music for a dance performance when TED came to town, and providing the soundtrack for the short film Tronkyin. Ranges also put on two feature length audiovisual shows at a Planetarium in support of their album Solar Mansion, which reminds me of local Wellington composer Rhian Sheehan, who also creates soundtracks for shows at Planetariums and observatory domes. Everything that Ranges put out seems ambitious and extended beyond expectations.
Like I said in my Gilmore Trail review, one of the reasons that instrumental music is so intriguing is because the absence of lyrics leave the music open ended so that the listener can interpret the music however they wish. Even though we know that the song is inspired by a 24 hour day, we can still insert our own stories to fit the soundtrack.
Ranges is a band that pushes the conceptual envelope and expands on ideas across mediums, and ‘Night & Day’ is no exception. As well as being a glorious musical track, the sonic interpretation of night and day makes the song all the more interesting. The song is dynamic enough to stay interesting despite it’s length, especially if you try to identify different parts with the song’s inspiration in mind.
Check out the video below to hear ‘Night & Day’ played live. If you like it then make sure to follow the links underneath for more.
Twitter and Instagram handle: @rangesmusic