Album Review by Preston Dildine, Photo by Eric Carbenia, Album Art by Terry Ringler
I want to go on record as stating that I keep finding myself reviewing bands that, after reviewing them, I simply cannot live without. This is another album that has brought me such joy in listening to, and I am so excited to be able to share it with you.
“Spirit of Place” is an album by the Ohio-based band Firmament, which consists of the collected awesomeness of Eric Carbenia (guitar/vocals), Brandon Carbenia (guitar), Alex Herstine (bass), and Matt Spradling (drums). Together, they create a sound that is at once eerie, beautiful, challenging, and intense, all the while retaining a pleasant listening atmosphere. This album was years in the making, according to a blurb found on hearnow.com. (Follow that link for the album!) The blurb also states that this album: “Partially catalogues the band’s adventures […] Close brushes with death, the chance meeting with a desert-dwelling UFO abductee, and other explorations inner and outer.” And if that isn’t enough to get you to jump into this listening adventure with me…well, then nothing will!
The first track, “Autotroph”, has a very eclectic sound. The melody is sound, but the arrangement accompanying it is very scattered, albeit rhythmic. But just before you question whether or not the two will come together, they do in a rush of electric guitar. The lyrics are very relevant of what I take to be a self-reflection, and perhaps, a knowing warning. “What you consume, you surely will become, or try to hide away” being my favorite of the statements expertly executed with this song. I absolutely agree.
The next track, “Bilateral”, is very atmospheric. It is reminiscent of space, the outer limits, of vastness and emptiness. A haunting straining chord is played throughout the piece. Distant voices echo through the music, perhaps recordings? Cries for help? We can’t make them out. The vocals give us a sense of longing, and the lyrics speak of a lover, perhaps a past lover? The voice calls, and the music responds. A beautiful, biting ballad.
“This Tribe Is An Ocean” picks up the pace, as it is driven by hard guitar and a pulsing percussion beat. The heartbeat of this song is quick, but not frantic, as this is a song about power in being alone, and the drive to complete what’s before us. “I can do this by myself. I’m alive and well.” As someone who finds power in being alone, this is one of my favorite songs from this album.
“As One Watches The Rain” has a phenomenal, almost tribal beat to it. Much as the title says, it very much feels, as though we are watching a storm blow through, ravage us, and then clear. Very well done, using instrumentation to give us such strong feelings.
“Track 5” is a gentle rain fall, with some birdsong. Did they mean this as a palate cleanse, or…? You know, I will imagine it so, and take it as such. A nice pallet cleanse to toss us into the second half of the album.
“Whatever”, indeed. This track is very chill. Not slow, but relaxing. The accompaniment lulls you into a sense of complacency. The lyrics give a sense of confusion. I am seeing Alice in Wonderland, with the Caterpillar, nothing making sense, and confused as to not only where, but who she is.
“Habitual”. We get our drive and persistence back in this track, and hear in the lyrics a plea. A plea to cease the repetition and make a decision. “A mockery of how things used to be.” This reminds me of a rehabilitation plea. But what must be rehabilitated from? What is it that we have become addicted to?
“”Raymond Moody” is a haunting piece. I watched the music video for this one on YouTube to get a better feel of the story being told. And that story feels like a story of rebirth. Now, I may have come to that conclusion from the video itself, but I feel as though if you do not tell your story through your music video, you are doing yourself a disservice, and so I will take this conclusion at face value. As I said before, this piece is haunting. Beautifully so.
“White Light” feels very eclectic, much like the first track of this album. But the accompaniment is much more rhythmically sound. The lyrics sound more like whispers through white noise than anything else, and it works for an ethereal piece of music.
“Novelty”, our final track in this album, has a very empowering feel to it. It also feels like a closing piece. In a good way. Much like a finale to a phenomenal musical, or a final poem, wrapping up a tragic tale.
Again, this album was a treat to listen to, and I am so glad it was presented to me to review. I wish this band the best of luck, and I hope to catch them live very soon!