If I had finished writing this review when I was supposed to, I wouldn’t have had the TV on in the background showing the scenes of devastation wreaked by Hurricane Sandy while I listened, once again, to this stunning album. It sounds like a soundtrack to what is happening on screen – a post-apocalyptic soundscape littered with the voices of lost souls roaming a decaying city. [Sorry - that was a bit melodramatic.] I am, however, writing this whilst sincerely hoping that Brooklyn four piece ERAAS still have homes to go to once they get back from their current US tour.
Opener Black House is a brief instrumental that sounds eerily like wind chimes blowing on a beach front cabin while a storm rolls in from the sea, accompanied by a string section straight out of a film score. The atmosphere turns darker, and we begin.
A Presence opens with the most perfect bass guitar sound I have ever witnessed. Witnessed with my ears, that is. This bass sound continues throughout the album, understandably, because it is perfect, and why would you mess with the settings once you have attained perfection? The percussion track is deeply layered and fascinating – it sounds like someone hitting pots, pans and glass bottles with a wooden spoon like you did when you were a kid. [Yes, you did.] Other unusual sounds intrigue the listener: at one point it sounds uncannilylike a metal pole banging against a lamp post, or rigging against a ship’s mast. Guitars and vocals swirl compellingly into this mix.
The start of At Heart conjured images in my mind of zombies making their way through an abandoned supermarket. I can’t explain why, it was just a feeling that crept over me. There seems to be this mixture throughout the album of “real” instruments and samples that keep the listener interested. The vocals take on a sort of falsetto counterpoint to the wonderful bass sound [did I mention this is the best bass sound ever created?] and I can understand that they might not be everyone’s cup of tea. Are they discordant? Yes, slightly – but they are supposed to be. The high notes made the hairs on my arms stand up.
Ghost is jaw-droppingly good – mesmerising is the only word for it. It almost sounds like some kind of tribal ritual, re-imagined in a dystopian inner-city setting. The insistent underpinning thrum of the bass is hypnotic; again the percussion is an integral part of the track and is backed up by the drums and ambient noises, a spiky guitar riff pricks at the brain, and then the chanting starts…. I wish I had a copy of the lyrics - they could honestly be saying anything - but I’m sure I picked out the words “séance” and “ancient Cheyenne” in there. I’m pretty certain the opening line says: “Down the stairs of broken home [or hope]” – however, the track isn’t as straight-forwardly dark as this would imply, there is light and shade.
Moon is a lovely ambient segue into the next track, Briar Path which I believe has also been released as a single. This track starts and ends with what sounds like something burning. Twisted. Another segue takes us into the first single ERAAS previewed from this album, Fang. I liked it when I first heard it and I still like it now, but I have come to think that it isn’t the best track on the album – although it is probably more accessible than some of the others. Crescent sounds like it was recorded in a mental hospital, or maybe at the Overlook Hotel. Dark and creepy, atmospheric, massive reverbs and low drones and indistinct vocals make this track a nerve tingling experience. It also reminded me of Berlin period Bowie/ Eno.
By the end of the album closer, Trinity, I became aware that I was rocking back and forth in a way that can only be described as deranged. This is such an epic album it produces involuntary muscular spasms in the listener. I love this album, and I’m going to be listening to it for a long time to come. I would describe it as a film that you watch with your ears, probably directed by John Carpenter.
Posted: Tue 30 October 2012 Total Views: 366Views Today: 0