Hours is the sixth studio album by the Experimental Rock band, Falling Up.
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If the players aren’t embedded, I don’t know. HTML is dumb.
Hours is a concept album. I’d like to say that it’s their first concept album, but Your Sparkling Death Cometh seemed to have a story of its own as well, although it was a lot more vague. For those who don’t know, a concept album is one that tells an overarching story, or has a specific and very prevalent theme throughout. The main point is that the whole album is about one concept, which means none of the songs are random or out of place.
As a concept album, Hours goes for vague storytelling. I’ve experienced a lot of concept albums, from the shallow but interesting Awakening by P.O.D., to the obvious and operatic Nostradamus by Judas Priest. It seems either things are really clear, or things are vague. Vague seems to be the more common and obviously artsy way to do things.
The only problem is that Hours isn’t a standalone piece. See, not once have I seen a concept album done right. My personal definition of right is one that intrigues you on your first few playthroughs, then later you pick it apart, finding plot pieces and characters here and there. Once you’ve listened to it so many times that you know it by heart, the narrative begins to make sense. And it’s pretty nice how you can listen to one song individually, unlike other concept albums.
Hours could have been like this, but it wasn’t. And, that’s actually fine! Why? Well, like I said, Hours wasn’t a stand alone piece, it’s a three-part artistic project. The next part, Midnight on Earthship isn’t as related, so I won’t speak on it here. The important part is the namesake audio novel, ‘Hours.’
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See, as far as I can tell it seems as if those looking for the story are better off listening to the audobook first, then listening to the album and receiving all kinds of “ah-ha!” moments. Because, I tried to decipher the album on it’s own and it’s simply not possible. Certain main character’s names don’t even appear in the lyrics or titles, you just can’t do it. But, it’s a companion piece, so it doesn’t really have to work like a traditional concept album.
You can tell from the first two seconds of Hours that it isn’t going to be like any other rock album. Some songs don’t even have guitars in them, but still manage to sound like rock, for example my favourite track Aeva and the Waving World which inspired a short story of mine.
The problem with most experimental rock is that it turns into more of a selfish experimental piece than a true work of music. See all good art is made for an audience. You have to be considerate that people other than yourself are going to see it. Why? Well, otherwise it’s not really art, it’s just self indulgence. It’s just your ideas, your unfiltered brain spewed out on the page. Hours never, not once strays into that territory. The experimentation was all in the first draft, and then Falling Up did the noble thing and refined it.
The Contract is a bright, sparkling track, and it’s also filled with foreshadowing. The chorus thunders, “my heart beats like a helicopter!” That obviously means something is happening, that this contract is important and exciting.
The Climb keeps things calm, “He wasn’t terrified,” but a more observant listener would hear an important part at the end. Someone familiar with the narrative would get an “ah-ha” moment too, when the singer says,
Broken body shaking
cold and purple lips
We can do everything
This is a stark reference to the Waving World, a state of mind that one can only enter when they’re trapped in the space between life and death, 50% alive, 50% dead. I’m not going to spoil the narrative and tell you how the main character and his friends managed to maintain such a dangerous state because I think everyone should check the novel out, even if they aren’t into the music.
See, purple lips is one of the major defining features of one who has hit 50% and entered the Waving World.
Finn Hatches a Plan
Finn is the main character, but that’s not his real name. Finn is a title, the leader. The “she” mentioned in the song is a specific person named Olive. I am in love with the chorus here.
I am really afraid
But I am her protector
You’ll be never alone again
Cause I am your protector
It’s so clear that these two are very close. It gives me horripilation. [Side note, goosebumps are also called horripilation. Cool.]
The Rest Will Soon Follow
This song is almost a literal worship piece, and honestly I think it’s amazing that Falling Up managed to make such a song fit so cleanly into a rock album.
Cause when they told you now it’s your son and your daughter that sees
All these different shapes and different colors
And an infinite space between you and them
The impact of this verse increases tenfold once you know the giant reveal at the end of the book. Even before then, you can tell that these few lines are a lot deeper than they appear.
Then things take off with a pulsing, rhythmic track. This song has no lyrical chorus. Instead, the chorus is the loud pulsing that makes this track such an epic headbanger. Honestly, I want to crank this at a party some day. Hell, I’m going back to finish my English Degree, so I’ll tell you all how it goes!
Now walk the Earth!
On Growing Things
None, none will find us
Cause they aren’t looking
For things much smaller
For things that grow
The opening verse literally inspired a certain scene in The Solune Prince.
The song itself is calm and enchanting, and is about the Glowing, a force that one can harness in the Waving World. It makes plants grow!
Now this song really got my creative juices flowing. The tentative drum intro tells of a chase of sorts.
Maybe they catch you, maybe they catch you!
Anyone who had read the chapter knows that some strange and unnerving things happened here.
And with lyrics like these, even if you haven’t listened to the book, you can tell something chilling and unusual is going on.
They whispered words with a strange tongue
While taking cash with the same gun
They speak your future
And they smell your blood rising
The Outsider is an enigmatic character who’s nature only gets stranger as you learn about him.
Transmission has so few lyrics that it’s amazing how much emotion it conveys.
Show your fear that you know
You know that you saw it shoot out
Don’t let it be lost like stardust!
Don’t let it go out there,
Don’t let it be lost like stardust!
Don’t let it go out there.
The guitar solo in this one is very jagged and broken, while the chorus is so hopeful. A conflicted track for a conflicted part of a narrative.
Is that a word? Prillicians?
This would take slot two or three for favourite songs. It’s clear, fast, and only relents for the moody chorus.
And now, I wish you were here
It’s all that you hoped for
And now, I’ve given my life
For all that you lived for…
A great loss has come to the Finn at this point, but it only makes him more driven.
In Echoes Forever
In Echoes Forever is the kind of song that makes you wonder if your disc is scratched. The time signature of the guitars and drums is a little jarring, and it really grabs your attention. Again the chorus mixes things up. Good track, but I don’t listen to it much so… that’s all I can say.
Now, if you got the original version of this album, the one with the clock on the cover, then this is the last track. It fades out and that’s it. This is also the last chapter of the book. But, if you got the re-release, then there’s one more. A song with the chilling title…
The Station is a song I never really paid attention to, but reading the lyrics over for this review gave me real chills as I realized what it was about.
See, the novel ends with the Finn, who’s real name is Seth, and his friend embarking on a journey. See, there’s this whole outer narrative that’s present throughout that only gets revealed in the second half of the book. It regards the Outsider, and how there’s a war between two sides, the Outsiders and the people like Seth and his friends. Those like the people of Bethel Orphanage.
And the Station? This song is the epilogue, a part of the story I didn’t know existed until literally today.
So you want deliverance that fourteen years couldn’t bring
Or you want to bury all the evidence so far down
Or your dreams are always coming true
Either way you still find you take a life, for a life, for a life
See, he’s fourteen and he has two options. Bury the evidence or take up the task of joining the outer conflict. A life for a life for a life is probably a reference to the three friends that Seth lost to get this far, but I’m not entirely sure.
Nine more machines, I’ve got nights I’ll be stealing
Watch out, I never stop, I never stop, I never stop
This is the part that freaked me out, and is still giving me horripilation as I write this. Remember how the kids got to the brink of death and had the purple lips? Well, it was because of a machine. Again, I’m not getting into details, but the machine was dangerous, and was based off of Seth’s fingerprints.
It was essentially a giant electromagnet that sucked most your blood out of your brain, and let you enter the Waving World where amazing things are possible, such as using the Glowing to grow full trees in a matter of hours.
And the fact that Seth went to other orphanages and built nine more machines, that there’s now an army of people who are tapping into that power… it’s mind-blowing.
The book is about an orphan named Seth who gets a contract from one of his teachers. She gives him the paper. The contract gives him and his class an hour to spend in an old gymnasium in the orphanage/school, completely unsupervised.
Seth and his friends quickly learn that previous classes had climbed up the basketball nets and onto the rafters. They signed the wall, year by year, class by class, starting with the first leader, Finn. Since then, Finn had become a title for the leader of each new contract. And it seems that each class had come up with a game.
And, like most unsupervised groups of kids, the games they came up with were a little dangerous. The large metal doors to the gym slide shut automatically exactly one hour after they open, and the first group’s game was this. Run through the door at the last second, getting as close to the hour without getting cleaved in half by the door.
No one died, but this element of danger started a trend and each year’s class tried to one-up each other.
Seth knew what his game would be shortly after he built the machine. See, he could hear something no one else did. It wasn’t that they couldn’t hear the beeping, but rather that no one except Seth was listening for it.
And his game? It was to dig down and find out what the beeping was. And in the Waving World time slows down, the one hour would stretch to two or three, sometimes even a day or two. And they dug all the way down to the blue ruins right at the edge of the machine’s power…
It’s cool, right?
Hours is amazing. If you like experiment, or more chill rock, grab it. If you like music at all, grab it. If you don’t like music but like a good story, get the novel. Not sure what to do? Get both.
How to Consume
Personally, I got all the tracks on my phone and made a playlist in the music app called “Hours.” Then I put a chapter, followed by its song in one by one. There are 12 chapters, 12 tracks, and 12 hours. Hey, that’s pretty clever! The thirteenth hour (isn’t that a saying?) is a post-epilogue. It worked great, because I could immediately connect the song to it’s corresponding event, although sometimes they’re out of sync.
If you don’t want to do that, I would say listen to the album a few times, listen to the book, then listen to the album again. In the end though, it doesn’t really matter, it’s all good.
The final piece of the The Machine De Ella Project is called Midnight on Earthship. It’s a very calm… chill… umm… To be honest, the best word I can use to describe this album is comforting. When I’m stressed, this is the music I reach for.
It’s clever too, you can see the Hours Watch in that person’s hand. It’s from the cover, but it’s also mentioned in the book, it’s how Seth keeps track of the hour they have in the gym.
They really pulled out all the stops. When they needed a violin, they found a guy instead of using computer generated sounds. When they wanted harmonized vocals, they hired a backup singer.
The Machine De Ella Project
This whole project was made a couple albums after Falling Up left their music label.
See, a lot of artists are going indie nowadays because the industry has become so corrupt. Remember what happened to Kesha from 2013-2017? Didn’t hear about it? Well, let’s just say that there’s a really awful reason why she wasn’t making music for those four years. Then there’s Macklemore, proving that you really can get huge without a label if you just put in the effort.
Anyway, the Machine De Ella Project was funded on Kickstarter and each track was released by the week. That’s right, they didn’t drop the whole album at once, they let the songs trickle out. Really clever, and I can see why. They put more effort into some of those songs than certain artists (who will remain unnamed) put into entire albums.
Hours is an amazing album. 9.6/10, please go support Falling Up by getting it on itunes or bandcamp. I prefer bandcamp because it gives me free unlimited downloads, and I just load my phone up.