The release of their eponymous debut album back in 2008 on Rock Action saw Glasgow’s Remember Remember swiftly filed under the post-rock genre, something reinforced three years later by their second album The Quickening. While on the surface they were understandable associations it never always felt an entirely comfortable fit, especially given the subtly different instrumentation that ran through their music.
The critical acclaim bestowed upon The Quickening may have gained them new followers and raised their profile yet third album Forgetting The Present edges out both previous efforts as their most complete offering yet. There is little in the way of musical surprises to those familiar with their work, the overriding principles appearing to be refinement and purification as opposed to any sense of major transformation or change in sound.
The expansion of the group into a seven piece (still led by multi-instrumentalist Graeme Ronald) may well be responsible for the greater focus on texture and layers on Forgetting The Present. In this sense parallels can be drawn to Rave Tapes, the latest album from label heads Mogwai. La Mayo encapsulates this early on in how the muted saxophone melody snakes its way through a densely textured forest of sound. They may not achieve the peaks of other guitar-driven instrumental outfits but this is proof that they can still harness significant power.
Earlier, album opener Blabbermouth lights up the skyline with percussive impacts that interrupt the cyclical patterns played out on the glockenspiel. This instrument has always been their key point of difference, and it loses none of its importance here, reappearing on the plaintive Magnets and the pastoral calm of The Old Ways.
The concentration on an established sound however can on occasion present something of a paradox – instrumentally they still offer greater variety than many other guitar-based albums yet the level of uniformity and consistency can start to suggest a certain narrowness. Ultimately it’s a minor point however – Forgetting The Present is a highly enjoyable and enduring listen, most clearly demonstrated late on the album in the form of Pterodactyl and Why You Got A Blue Face. The former imagines TNT-era Tortoise playing with the North Sea Radio Orchestra, all percussive drive and baroque-tinted harmonic cohesion. The latter meanwhile is a good example of the deceptive power they generate, hinting at greater intricacies and musical styles whilst growing into something vast and melodic. Ascents and descents abound and sounds flow with impetus and purpose.
The final two tracks – Purple Phase and Frozen Frenzy – prove that a greater sense of artistry flows through their work than most other bands categorised under the post-rock label. There may come a time where repeated fine-tuning becomes progressively more difficult, but in the meantime Remember Remember have released an album that consolidates their position and shows off their abilities in impressive style.