Review Summary: A moving display of synth beauty and musical experimentation yields a breathtaking album that can conform to any mood.
Kevin Moore, the former keyboard player for Dream Theater, certainly took an unorthodox approach to creating his 2004 record Graveyard Mountain Home
. After viewing the 1955 film Age 13
, the tale of a boy's grief over the loss of his mother, Moore decided to write a soundtrack inspired by the film, going so far as to slow down the movie and add his soundtrack in the place of all audio. The result? A strange, calm, unsettling, lumbering beast of an album that is very textured and is great to set a chilled-out mood. What else could be expected from a man who calls himself Chroma Key?
The album features a measure of ambience, coupled with wonderfully odd percussion and sparse vocals. The opening track, YYY
is an archetype example. Opening with the sounds that remind one of Japanese percussion, a soft, distorted drumbeat is heard in the background, slow to gain prominence. Static echoes within the atmosphere, giving way to a guitar line and some ambient musings. The odd, Oriental percussion returns for a solo, and the sounds of a raging storm round out the introduction to the album. Although short, the length must not dissuade listeners from the remainder of the experience.
From there, so much is yet to be found. The sweet guitar and cymbal introduction of White Robe
yield vocals surmounted by distortion, as it plods along lovingly. Slightly overdriven electric strings are mimicked by an acoustic guitar as Moore's lamentations are felt in the listener's heart, even though the message is undoubtedly murky with all that distortion. A guitar interlude later in the song just cements the perfect mood even more. A tinkling of piano can be heard after this break, as guitar matches vocals for a finale that leaves the listener wanting even more.
The album, while displaying soft and moody tracks, also has its share of odd, and at-times disturbing fare. A processed beat and quirky ambient effects usher in Before You Started
. Once again, the vocals are on the back burner, and the song soon regresses into a barrage of reversed cymbals and childish clicking noises, providing a synth-laden passage of wonderful vocals before fading away.
However, this track is not the oddest, for the next offering is Human Love
. This track is nothing more of a monologue of a thick-accented man of a possible German heritage. The music is entirely secondary to this irritating and rather pointless speech, which consists of a pessimistic dissertation of, well, human love. If not for the wonderful music in the background, with consists of a trance-y synth line and a beat suitable for shaking ones hindquarters to. A battle ensues with regards to vocals, as another man's voice can be heard, as if through a radio. This nonsense goes on for a little over six minutes, and is the most annoying song to be found on the album.
Once all of that rubbish has ended, the rest of the album acts as a pleasant reward for suffering through Human Love
. The lonely piano line weaves through fuzzy ambient interjections and random samples, birthing the song Pure Laughter
, which is a welcome downer if there ever could be one. True and Lost
bears a dissonant guitar line and very minimalist drums, playful synth appearing in the background to entice the senses as the almost sad instruments continue to push forward. It is haunting, beautiful, and rife with random samples from some entity unknown. As well, it is certainly worth the listen.
The first taste of Sad Sad Movie
may rub the listener wrong, but don't take it at face value. What is beheld here is a song that bears beauty unmatched, and could only be described as "harmonious decay." The synth seems to truly perpetuate this ideal, for it spurts to life and fades into a void of nothingness somewhere beyond the comprehension of human intellect, and makes the mood all the more incredible...almost epic. The drums crash around the vocals, which are as melancholic as the mood calls for. A piano line is brought into the mix, and in the end is left with the last, fleeting word, a word of patent emotion and hope. Everything here comes together in a more than perfect fashion to create something unquestioningly beautiful in the process.
With Graveyard Mountain Home
, Kevin Moore has crafted and shaped an interesting sound, through ambient waves and lines of string melody. The result of this seemingly homogenous mixture, with bare patches of vocals added along with dance-able, hip-hop-worthy drumbeats, is a poignant, odd, at-times sad blend of sounds and textures. The music can incur many an emotion from within. Don’t fight the emotion, as it can be the perfect ingredient for enhancing any mood.
"White Robe, Sad Sad Movie"
Kevin Moore knows how to enhance and create the perfectly relaxed mood with simple arrangements.
The music can get very melancholic and depressing at certain points.