Review Summary: If City of Caterpillar are screamo with post-rock elements, this is post-rock with screamo elements.
At the beginning of Sinking Steps… Rising Eyes only full length album, Majestic Blue
, you are not greeted with any sort of complex musicianship. In fact, you are not greeted with any musicianship at all. At the opening of the album there are simply the forlorn sounds of waves breaking on the beach. The sparseness of the sampling is truly amazing. I can recall hearing this album for the first time in ninety degree weather, but feeling like I was standing alone on a beach in November. As they keyboards begin to play they intermingle with the sounds of the waves, and as they continue to grow in power the bass and guitars chime in as well. Slowly the waves become overpowered by the instruments, and then the album begins.
Perhaps the most striking thing about the album is the feeling that although the literal waves are no longer audible the instrumentation has taken their place. Slowly the music sways back and forth, up and down, in and out simply to have it crash again. As soon as a small crash has occurred the music rises up once more, and continues the cycle. Each song is a single, solitary wave, yet at the same time every song is a million waves. There are millions of tiny rises and tiny crashes, but every track is one rise and fall within itself. That may be what makes Majestic Blue
so majestic. It is like the ocean that it is named after it is seamless and pure. It brims with life and an intangible allure, but it retains an element of danger: there is something that keeps you from diving headfirst into it and never coming back up again.
If one was to focus upon the single instruments that present themselves within the album it is likely that they would find nothing of interest. In fact, it is likely that they would be bored to tears. Somehow the seven person ensemble manages to come together with their most basic of musicianship’s and create a truly trancelike sound. The intermingling of the bass and keyboard, or the violin and the guitar manage to equal much more than the sum of their parts. They forge a vibrant and full sound through slowly shifting melodies and harmonies. There is no instrument that controls another one. Even Erin Toft’s sweet, and nearly shoegaze-esque vocals seem to fit meticulously into the flow of other instruments. At this stage the album merely comes across as a beautifully crafted post-rock album with hauntingly slow vocals. If that was all the album consisted of it would be a great album, but there is one thing that truly makes this album’s beauty shine.
Throughout the course of this six song album the male vocalist only sings in five different instances, and each of those instances is perfectly times, and perfectly executed. Throughout the course of this album the music thrives on its cohesiveness, its flow and the fact that dissonant is a word that under no circumstance could be applied to it. However, when the male vocalist sings he does not sing. He lets forth perhaps on of the most putrid screams imaginable within music. It is not a clean, high pitched scream that is typically found in music with screamed vocals. For him it sounds as if there is something trying to stifle his screams. It sounds as if someone is torturing him, and that is simply the only sound that he can make. It thrives on being disgusting. It languishes in its differences to the rest of the music. Absolutely everything about the noise that he utters is contradictory to the rest of the music, but somehow from this polar opposite comes a better understanding of the rest of the music. The shifts from beauty, to intensity, back to beauty only prove the nature of the beauty. On the other side of the coin the shifts from pure instrumentation to those horrid screams only enunciates the emotion that has spawned those screams. The contrast is what proves this album’s magic. The appreciation for the gorgeous instrumentation would be nearly forgotten if it wasn’t for the destructive outbursts, and vice versa.
Then, quickly as it began the waves become audible once more. Slowly they creep back into the mix of the album as the instruments all being to slow down, become less complex. They grow in volume and power over five minutes of an unfocused finale, slowly leaving the bass and keyboard behind. They flourish until they control all the sound that remains. As the music is gone and the listener is left with nothing but themselves, and their thoughts on that cold and lonesome beach it may occur to them that the album has gone full circle. They have braved the depths of the Majestic Blue
yet have nothing to show for it, but just because you have ended up in the same place where you’ve started does not mean you weren’t changed for it.