Although they've been around for almost 10 years and this is their fifth full-length album, I'm sort of a latecomer to their music. I'd heard a couple different tracks of theirs floating around on different comps, but the first time I actually heard more than one of their songs in a row was when I heard them open for Godspeed You Black Emperor last fall. I'm not sure if that experience did anything for the group as a whole, but after putting it side-by-side with a couple of their other releases (that I subsequently listened to), Dilate is probably their most expansive in terms of styles and sounds. It's a psychadelic haze of an album with layers upon layers of sound, many tracks so dense that lead singer Isobel Sollenberger just becomes another element.
The opening track of the album sets the stage pretty well (although it's instrumental) with a slow build of bowed strings, electric guitar, and some watery sounding keyboards. Eventually, it transforms into a thundering beast of a track that sounds like what Sigur Ros would create if they decided to crank things up a bit more. The second track "Sunrise" starts off in a bit of a misleading way, with only an acoustic guitar and some strangely layered vocal tracks by Sollenberger. About a minute and a half into things, though, the group drops in a thick percussion track and two squalling guitars while the double-speak vocals continue.
The middle of the album sags in an aural sense with several tracks that move along at no more than a snails pace. "Favorite Uncle" is a strange track in which nearly all the individual elements of the track feel very seperated, yet somehow cohesive. Sollenbergers vocals sound like they're being sung into a tin can while two different guitars play along at different volumes and paces. It's almost disconcerting at times, but works well along the lines of the gropus tradition for music to trip out by. One of the best tracks on the album is the instrumental closer of "Ganges." Although it heads in completely different directions than the somewhat uplifting album opener, the sludging thickly layered track is a nice way to close out the release.
In the end, the group is part drone rock, part noise rock, part shoegazer, and part several other things. Sometimes they're dreamy, while at other times they simply rock out, many times within the course of a single track. With 10 tracks that run over 70 minutes, Dilate is a long, varied trip, but if you've heard the group before and enjoy them, you're definitely not going to go wrong here.