Review Summary: A most promising start indeed.
Six months ago, if you'd have told me that the same musical duo who released 2009's Grandfather
had first put out three EP's, The Equator!
being one of them, I probably would have looked at you in the same way as that cop did back in 2010 when I tried so very hard to articulate how drittle I had been linking. Perhaps there's a smidgeon of hyperbole in that, but the point remains: Grandfather
has a noticeably different sound than its forerunners. Intrigued by this obvious inconsistency and inspired to lend a second ear to the debut from Long Island based Tigers On Trains, I learned an important lesson about everybody starting somewhere, with that somewhere not necessarily being Suck-ville U.S.A.
immediately starts the listener off on an ambient and uplifting journey, track one here plays with dark undertones of violence and hatred. Though 'Hiranyaksha' floats along atop bright major chords, vocalists Mason Maggio and Christian Van Deurs immediately introduce vocal harmonies best cataloged as haunting and droning as they softly croon about power-hungry Hindu deities waging war on an innocent Japan. This same gloomy temperament based around the ancient gods and myths of Hinduism continues on throughout The Equator
, and provides and interesting perspective of the duo's impressive songwriting capacity. The imaginative sense of the ordeal, though coming off as discomforting at times, showcases two musicians trying to do something different with a couple guitars and a pair of amateur voices. That in itself is enough to revel in, and the result is as refreshing as it is exotic.
While never disbanding its formula of two unseasoned vocalists layering their efforts within simplistically folky guitar lines, The Equator!
still manages to maintain quite a bit of listening value. Making out the duo's folklore-rich tales becomes a challenge to the listener, with additional details becoming clear with each subsequent listen. "Everything is right where it should be, the fish at land, the birds at sea,
" begins 'The Red Shirt Song', a thought-provoking number that calls attention to the ever-disputable topic of religious predestination and free will, yet Maggio and Van Deur sustain their consistently even-tempered musicianship and singing. When considering the fact that the two musicians are also a part of passion-fueled alt-rock collective The Republic of Wolves
, their ability to remain so nonchalant with their playing here becomes even more impressive.
As the listener arrives at the chorus of album-closer 'Himalaya', it is quickly realized that the melody and the lyrics are the same as on 'Hiranyaksha'. The Equator
ends right where it started, tying in with the album's leitmotif of religion's influential role in life's unending and repetitive circle. However, what's important here is the ground that's covered in between, and the deep-rooted existential values found on Equator speak with a lot of heart to the listener. Yet the best part of it all is the quirky and enjoyable listen that's to be had in The Equator!
, and for that we all ought to be singing praises in Maggio's and Van Deur's names... all of this on just one unassertive and humble debut.