With their 2011 debut, the five-piece collective All Shall Be Well brought a splash of color to the sometimes bleak landscape of post rock with their unique combination of chromatic themes and musical storytelling. From the beginning, they have systematically followed a pattern of naming each album after pairs of colors and then linking them together by having the first color of the new set match the second from the previous record. Hence we have ROODBLAUW (red/blue) which was followed by BLAUWGEEL (blue/yellow), GEELZWART (yellow/black), and now ZWARTGROEN (black/green). This pattern is more than a novelty – the color set for each album sets the tone for the curation of its artwork and design of the concert visuals.
To create the artwork for ZWARTGROEN, the band drew upon the archive of Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, which has made most of its extensive collection available as public domain downloads. This gave the group access to a rich collection of works they could piece together into collages that both fit and expressed the album’s broader theme, a story about a group of survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by the climate crisis. It marks the first time the band have tied all the songs to a single concept.
“The record has a sort of unofficial subtitle: ‘Romantic Imaginings of an Environmental Apocalypse’. We found that phrase when we were researching the theme and what we wanted to do with it. Turns out, at the beginning of the Industrial Revolution there were lots of artists from many different disciplines that started making art as an answer to how the world was changing. … We try to tell this story through the song titles (that link up, and form what you could say is the opening paragraph of the story), the artwork and of course the music.”
When it comes to the music, All Shall Be Well has always had a penchant for lyrical melodies woven into intricately orchestrated arrangements that manage to sound as organic and down-to-earth as they do wide-eyed & wondrous and the songs that make up ZWARTGROEN are nothing less than pristine in those respects. The album is a sumptuous and satisfying listen and, while there is a welcome continuity to its style and aesthetic, it scales new heights with an assured elegance that shows just how much the band have been honing their musical chops and compositional skills. One of the group’s guiding principles is “connecting is everything”, and that is reflected beautifully in all aspects of this latest offering – the concept, the art, the music, and the presentation.
ZWARTGROEN is now available as a 12-inch 180 gram vinyl LP, CD, or digital download with additional merch bundles available. For those that enjoy the album experience, be sure to check out the band’s blog for fascinating background features on each of the tracks from title to artwork.