Review Summary: Past Lives’s experience in aggressive music and their knowledge of ambient music are carefully mixed together to create eight minutes of moody, but heartfelt music, jumping from horns to synths to guitar, driven by an undeniably unique sense of songwrit2 of 3 thought this review was well written
Past Lives' first official release, their entry into The Journal of Popular Noise, garnered wide approval from fans for good reason. What had been released so far by the band, material to end up on the 2008 release, Strange Symmetry, was urgent, and somewhat aggressive. Yet, they had hinted at a soft side, with their now semi-famous track, Beyond Gone. The good news is, this album delivers more of same oddly calming music only Past Lives can deliver. Bad news, it's only 8 minutes long.
Play by play:
Pretty chords are picked dryly, to a calming effect, over a synth chiming out a fluttery arpeggio in the backdrop, introducing the first track, Morning Comes. Jumpy, happy bass joins in several seconds, leading into a nice 1-2, 3-4 horn piece. 40 seconds of beautifully layered, wonderful ambiance open the album to great effect.
A cymbal crash stops the show, and a slow, rhythmic pounding is abruptly joined by Blilie’s low moan and the same guitar from before, armed with noticeably darker chords. This is the first of two proper songs on the EP. Blilie drools his dark, abysmal world over the ambiance, a layered collection of twangy, chirping guitar, shining, moody synth, and anthemic drum ‘n bass, which build smoothly into a climax of beautiful, ambient noise as Jordan wails “All is well.”
The song is powerful in its execution, each instrument utilized to match the atmosphere Past Lives have created for the five inch. The evolution of the song is great, but subtle, keeping the music thoroughly interesting, but never disorientating. Shapeshifting, heartfelt guitar controls the melody, backed by shining synth lines and Jordan's newly melodic croons, driven by powerful drum work.
Synth over synth over synth create a feeling of unrest and discomfort appropriate to the title of the next short, ambient track, Spirits Stir. Abrupt notes over abrupt notes create a an odd atmosphere that is both calming and panicked, and lead perfectly into the next song.
Bored To the Teeth opens with a jarringly urgent, discordant guitar, leading into the pounding, rhythmic chant that is the second, and last, proper track. It shapeshifts from the discordant, but poppy atmosphere to a calm, subdued one and back several times, each time evolving and introducing new instruments, new sounds, new notes, finally climaxing with a heart-wrenching shout from Blilie over rushed drums and layered guitar work.
The far too short release bids farewell with a reprise of the first track, the original guitar chords now openly played, accompanied by a pleasant, sleep-inducing bit of humming/singing from Blilie. After finishing this ep, I was very excited. The range of Past Lives is astounding, their skill is equal in the pseudo-grind noisefests on Strange Symmetry and the pretty, calm ambient bits on JPN. But most shocking about Past Lives, everything they do is different, and new. They are truly unique, a quality slowly fading out of the music scene.