Pillars and Tongues – The Pass & Crossings
While I may use comparisons between bands a lot when writing about music, I tend to avoid the ‘if you like fish, you must like chocolate’ approach to music reviewing, but I am going to break that habit now.
I reckon that if you like eagleowl (and you’re a fool if you don’t) then you are going to love this.
In part, that’s quite a superficial, stylistic comparison based on drones and atmosphere and the deep rumble of bowed strings, harmonium and vocal harmonies to underpin the music. Certainly eagleowl are a more playful and less grandiose band, so perhaps treat it with a pinch of salt.
One of the most striking things about this record, after I’ve just spent a whole paragraph talking about the mood and instrumentation, is actually the lead vocal. It is direct and clear and most clearly conveys the sense of melodrama, and I reckon this is likely to be the key sticking point for people.
The vocal sits above the musical landscape, with clear distance between it and the rest of the music, and it is really quite dominant in the mix. If you like it, which I do, then you’ll love this, but I can easily imagine some people finding it a little much.
For a band I have only just been introduced to, it seems these guys have been around for a while. Their first release appears to have been in 2006, and they have an extensive back catalogue of CD-Rs before releasing their last couple of things on vinyl.
This vinyl can be bought at the brilliant Endless Nest website, the home to so much good music I nearly got a divorce over how much I spent there. Endless Nest are apparently a collective, rather than a single record label, and as such the music to be found there is stylistically really quite scattered. This is the place I found the wild, gleeful music of The Sandwitches, for example, and now this.
It may be dramatically different to The Sandwitches, but this is still exuberant in a way, though. There’s something exhilarating about the way they court the darkness in their own music, as if it is something which swims around them and envelops them, and is something they encourage and indulge.
As such, this is more an uplifting record than a morose one, despite the downbeat nature of most of the songs. The high point for me is almost exactly halfway through, on Thank You Oaky, where the female vocal adds harmonies which complement the male vocal so beautifully I find myself somewhat disappointed her voice isn’t used more often.
That is isn’t matters little though, because this is still an absolutely gorgeous album.