Old Solar – Quiet Prayers (Redux) [Things You Might Have Missed 2022]

It’s a rare post-rock release that truly stands out. Those that do excel have to go further than waves of shoegazing guitars and must exercise song-writing discipline. Enter 2017 and enter North Carolina’s Old Solar. An EP entitled Quiet Prayers offered one of the year’s more poignant musical achievements, but it sadly flew too far under the radar. Almost 6 years and 1 full-length later sees Old Solar still resolutely toiling in the underground, but their sound and songwriting has matured. Hence 2022’s Quiet Prayers (Redux), which goes further than a simple re-release; it’s a full re-recording, re-mixing and re-mastering, with new passages and tweaked songwriting. Although our site policies around re-releases precluded a full review, I can afford a TYMHM article given its substantial development and high quality.

Quiet Prayers is majestic in its cinematic scope. It finds beauty through simplicity and takes joy in the ordinary. The instrumentation – typically guitars, piano and synth strings – is normally spacious and slow, falling very far from anything heavy, fast or loud. But the images it evokes with simple and sometimes sparse compositions are profound. Beginning with “Help Us to Be Faithful,” Old Solar conjure the moment of grandeur I imagine one feels if they were in space and observing the sun emerging from behind the earth. The drums mirror the wider track which gradually crescendos, swelling but never exploding. Even “Guards Our Minds as We Sleep,” which strikes out from the release’s ordinary approach through discordance and subtly unsettling melodies, is strongly evocative. It paints with the broad strokes of cosmic synths, leveraging the same sedate tempo and atmosphere, but reminding you that life isn’t perfect, no matter how hard you try. Quiet Prayers pushes its listener to seek out the light in the mundane, but acknowledge that dark is a necessary element of this too.

I even struggled when actively searching for things to improve. One could ask for more musical climaxes to match the exemplary builds used, but this defeats what the band is trying to do. Old Solar aim to be gentle and meandering; they’ve created music for the sake of music and not for the sake of snappy, direct songs. For other bands this would be a criticism (be more focused!) but with such beautiful output, I can’t in good faith complain. The exception which proves the rule that the music sways without much direction is heard on the closer called “Be Still, and Know that I Am.” In the EP’s original form there was just “Be Still” but now “Know that I Am” is interwoven. It seamlessly bleeds from something much like the rest of the tracks into a passage of distant tremolo-picked guitars which builds a new and thicker texture to sit behind the lead acoustic melody. As the track progresses it escalates and the second half finally hits a heavy apex. Although I endorse the approach otherwise adopted across Quiet Prayers, this song represents a satisfying finale.

Quiet Prayers (Redux) is an almost-perfect slice of post-rock. It’s delicate, endearing and uplifting. And it passes in a flash despite its typically slow song-writing, not least due to its extremely-digestible half-hour duration. Old Solar are a mesmerizing and life-affirming sort of group, taking their time to step back, breathe and appreciate what they have. I can’t help but feel that they’re really on to something, both with their philosophy and their music. For what it’s worth, their 2019 full-length (See) also comes with my hearty recommendation.

Tracks to Check Out: “Help Us to Be Faithful,” “Be Still, and Know that I Am”

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