For the most part, Cortege’s second full-length album continues down the path of post-rock in the vein of Earth with minimalist drones and western ambiance to match. However, Capricorn tweaks the elements that were established on the duo’s past efforts, expanding the instrumentation while trimming the runtimes. The results allow for a more digestible take on the style and give credence to the narrative that is being conveyed.
While the core of Capricorn is driven by crawling tempos and minimalist phrasing, the instrumentation could hardly be called basic. The melodies and textures are just as driven by synths as they are by bass, allowing for broader dynamic expressions and swelling buildups. The drums provide a loose foundation with almost reassuring rhythms and subtle fills, rounded out by some welcome use of tubular bells.
Going along with that, the songwriting is quite varied for an album of this nature. The album’s first four tracks flow between different moods as synths sweep through the opening “Aurora” and “Occulation” while “The Watch” and “Horizon” put in more forward, bass-driven layouts. The album reaches its climax with the seventeen-minute title track; despite it being almost as long as the other tracks combined, it’s somehow even more accessible thanks to its sequential movements being reinforced by hypnotic rhythms, rumbling bass, emotional synths, and that damn fine tubular bell.
As much as Capricorn’s title track would’ve been an astounding release by itself, the full album is still a great work overall. Cortege is clearly working with purpose as the musicianship is vibrant and the compositions are engaging enough to go beyond mere background ambiance. This is music that feels like it actually could be a score for some lost western and I imagine it being quite stunning with the right visuals included.