Toronto septet The Most Serene Republic take their name from European history, and it seems to be the grandiose and mystical romanticism of the middle ages that guides their music as well. Using a staggering variety of instruments, both electronic and acoustic, they’ve created a third album that’s as confusing as it is intimidating. All this intellectual grandeur may scare many off, but for those who remain, there is a rich and enjoyable narrative buried underneath the layers of posturing.
…And The Ever-Expanding Universe combines influences from contemporary choral classical music with electronica and rock. While they’re not the first band to do this, they’re definitely one of the better ones; the arrangements present on this album are sensitive and emotional. It’s well-recorded, too; the strings and horns are treated with a nice layer of reverb to lend the music an outdoor quality. You can almost hear the birds chirping in the background.
The Most Serene Republic have stuffed a lot into these 40 minutes of music, but, unbelievably, it occasionally doesn’t feel like enough—there are some songs here that are simply too long (and too long-winded) to be satisfying. The high points of this album, however, are heavenly, with arrangements that are blessed with the detail usually reserved for film scores. I can’t help but imagine the film that this album would accompany—it sounds like a damn good one.