An audio/visual collective out of Portland, Oregon, Small Sails create vibrant, post rock music that shimmers with electronics and mixes in nonsensical vocals that include chants, whispers, and coos. While performing live, they're joined by dual projectors weaving a tangle of lovely original reel-to-reel footage (one of which is included on the CD). Like a lot of other groups treading somewhat similar ground (Album Leaf, Berg Sans Nipple, Aloha, Lymbyc Systym, etc), it's hard to tell where the live instrumentation and the program stuff ends and begins, with everything blurring together in lush ways.
Technically, the group is a trio, and the mix together both live and programmed drums, loads of synths and electric piano, and more vibraphones than you can shake a mallet at. They incorporate guitars far less than most of their contemporaries, usually letting more spacey synth sounds and deep grooves rule the day. Opener "Somnambulist" sets the stage, with acoustic guitar loops that soon get swallowed up by a thumping beat and overlapping synth melodies while multi-part vocals range from simple "la-la's" to Animal Collective-style panting and chanting. "Aftershocks And Afterthoughts" is even more successful, with choppy beats and more wordless vocal passages offset with huge, retro synth washes that would make Human League lovers pee with glee.
While the group does a fairly good job of keeping things somewhat mixed up, the release runs together in quite a few places simply because the tempo rarely veers from sort of a mid-tempo chug. "Farewell Weird Owl" blips along with some steady beat programming and shimmering electronics, but sounds something like Sigur Ros doing some bland folktronica while "Earthbound With Parents" drops some cymbal-heavy beats to open things before completely falling off the map. Combined with visuals in a live setting, the more heady songs probably make for a nice communal head-trip, but Similar Anniversaries plays it far too safe most of the time to leave a real lasting impression.