Review Summary: If you enjoy weird...
Okay, this recipe calls for two obscure indie-folk singers (Anthony LaMarca of The Building, Angelo Spagnolo of In One Wind), a book written by a monk (Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
), and way too much free time. Toss it all in a giant cauldron, chant towards the sky, and voila! – you have Bread Is First
. This album feels like wandering into a creepy forest (think Robert Eggers' The Witch
), listening to a preacher speak about God, realizing that he was actually Satan, and that whilst listening to his sermon you had stripped naked and slaughtered a deer. It's really far out there; indie-folk at its core, yet swirling with dissonant feedback and experimental classical/electronic components. Before I delved into the record's backstory, I actually thought I had stumbled upon the world's most whacked-out Christian band – after all, the lyrics do speak heavily about faith and God. The more I listened however, the more that perception became distorted by the album's creepy and disconcerting atmosphere. As I started to realize that something wasn't quite
right, that's when I finally bothered to do my research. Discovering that the lyrics are based entirely on the written text of a monk only made me love Bread Is First
more – first off because that's just a wicked awesome idea, and secondly because the eerie, mystical aura that LaMarca and Spagnolo conjure here makes the whole experience feel warped.
To avoid any risk of being misunderstood, though: this isn't really a dark, depraved record. Acoustic guitars provide an instrumental baseline to most of these tracks, while pianos, ambient keys, and spoken words provide additionally enriching accents. The heaviest lifting is done by LaMarca and Spagnolo, whose voices intertwine in the most satisfying of ways – the melodies are neither so bright that they betray the atmosphere, nor too foggy to enjoy. They access the right balance between aesthetically pleasing and unabashedly raw, resulting in a piece that sounds like some hidden musical gem you'd find in your grandfather's attic that seven other people know about. The duo also proves to be masterfully dynamic, interjecting long pauses and melodic bursts at all the right times, offering something of a tension-and-release when they're not chasing their whims far off into the ether. A record like Bread Is First
definitely requires a specific audience – this is not something you'll want to play at your next family function, but there are few albums that will sound this haunting while walking alone at night. If you enjoy weird
, then put the bread first and jam some monk-approved, tripped-out, and probably cursed indie-folk.