Album Review by Preston Dildine, Album Art by Katie Hautman Jones
Phasmids. Photo by Lisa Sullivan.
If you are looking for an adventure in atmospheric musicality, this album is for you! “Phasmids”, the debut album from the incredible band by the same name (Phasmids) is a six-track gem, filled with the beautiful combined talents of bassist Jared Wilson, multi-instrumentalist Christopher Sweeney, drummer Matthew Risher, pianist Rachel Mousie, and vocalist/lyricist Jonathan Goolsby.
The first track, “Many in Few”, has a soft but driving beat, combined with an almost 80s sound. (Which happens to be this writer’s favorite musical genre.) The melody is simple, but the piano accompaniment gives it a very complex feel. A techno etching shows up here and there throughout, modernizing the sound in a wonderful way. The vocals are smooth and soaring, joining the guitar in a nice rock sound. This is a perfect song to ease us into the album.
We move on to a very pop-like enthusiastic beat. I imagine high tops grooving down a sidewalk. The piano then makes its entrance, followed closely by an enthusiastic guitar melody. “Selene”, the second track in our listening is a beautifully up-tempo love song, not only adoring the woman who is the song’s namesake, but the lyrics are also at once spiritual and universal, appealing to our need for love and understanding. At least, that is what the music says to me.
Speaking of what the music says to me, our next track is entitled “Your Language Speaks to You”. We have a change of pace here, musically. The tone has become slightly darker. Not the mood, per se, simply the musicality. There is still an upbeat attitude carried over from the previous tracks, but we have reached a more serious mood. The drums give us almost a hint of storm clouds hovering over the lyrical sentiments. The backup vocals are haunting and flow in and out of the arrangement seamlessly.
We continue to slow down in our next track, “Now That I”. We have reached a nice slow duet ballad. The sound is longing, pining, yet strong. Strength in weakness. The lyrics are incredibly intricate and meaningful, giving the track multiple levels in its complexity. It’s almost mystical in its musicality. Perhaps we are in a fairy tale?
In our next track, “Fly”, we begin with intense piano and guitar chords. There is a heartbeat coursing through it, giving the track a beautiful intensity. The overlying message of what is home, where is home, is blatant, yet handled in a gorgeous way. I get the feeling that we, in our musical journey, have strayed too far, and are lost. Trying, praying, to find our way home. The arrangement itself seems to soar, like wings high on the wind, carrying us through this story. The vocals come together until they clash, and even when they clash, it is a beautiful moment. I very much enjoyed this track.
We have reached the end. “See Me Out” begins very softly. I had to check to make sure I actually pressed play. This piece is incredibly atmospheric. Very reminiscent of how I imagine heaven to sound. The vocals are angelic, harmonizing expertly with the simple, yet stunning arrangement of the music. I am surrounded by light, and oddly enough, hope. This track, more so than the rest, is an experience all its own. I am overwhelmed by the emotion gone into this track, and find it to be the perfect finale to an incredible work of art.
I am aghast with how much I enjoyed this album. I will be waiting to hear more from this band in the future. As previously mentioned, if you are looking for an experience in atmospheric pleasure, you will not be disappointed. From beginning to end, this album is immaculate. I highly recommend it. 11/10 stars.