07 September 2013 (released)
07 January 2014
Music-News.com has an ‘Underground’ section where we showcase new unsigned groups, so welcome to Earthist, a band who hail from Parma, known for its delicious ham and cheese but on this evidence, with other delicacies in store. They have just released an album ‘Now .Here. Or Nowhere.’ made up of 8 tracks which showcase eloquently their musical capabilities and depth, with the ability to make music that both engulfs and penetrates the mind .
The band consist of Federico Ronchini, vox/guitar, Francesco Parrino, Keybords/vox, Giacomo Giuffredi, guitar, Alberto Tanara, drums and Gianmarco Cotti, bass all around 20 years old, recording the album over a 3 month period in 2013 and coming up with an eclectic dare I say it, progressive rock/folk album.
It starts on the backfoot however with an opening instrumental ‘the moon and the tide’ following into ‘Gently Collide’. It really seems to me it’s as if reaching the cup final, they play the first part of the match following tactics, studious but not loose enough to show flair or passion. It seems like it’s recorded in an early session because the song just doesn’t lift me lyrically or musically, vocals and guitar sounding dampened, the rhythm section too contained. Then at about 3 minutes in, something stirs in the instrumental break and the band shake loose the tension and apathy and implode, letting loose words and sounds, euphonic and melodic in nature.
Indeed, from here on in it’s a delight. ‘Jackal’ starts off with just piano and vocals. Federico reminds me of Art Garfunkel in the vulnerability and tone of his voice, the band then follow with rock style riffs and neat drum and bass patterns; indeed more Artic Monkeys than Progressive in this song, nicely mixed up with stops and starts and interesting chord changes. ‘Sealence’ is a catchy song, with a good chorus and vocal hook but again surprises halfway through with an atypical interlude of near silence, an effect that imitates what I imagine the non English word of the title suggests, the muffling of sound underwater . It’s an interesting concept(silence can be louder than noise) but whatever, certainly a bold move to stick such a break in what is essentially a straight forward pop song.
‘Birth and Fall’ is a folk song with excellent backing vocals, à la Kings of Convenience, built around a guitar based acoustic melody with interesting touches that build it up. Different to preceding songs and so my suggestion that they have Progressive rock roots such as Marillion the like of who still make wonderful and complete albums.
‘White Oak’ is a great song, heavy in that it has vocal and musical weight and presence. Wonderful piano with interesting little melodic hooks and a great central guitar riff has you on repeated plays .As it takes off, its vocally reminiscent of Jack Steadman of Bombay Bicycle Club, Federico still having that vibrato and delicacy but with the added urgency . I have read that they like to make up their own ‘Earthist’ language which is appealing as I have always liked the idea of not knowing everything about a lyric.
Another musical interlude ‘Midnight Melody’ leads into the final and my favourite track ‘We Can Freeze Your Mind’.
With a ‘The Edge’ style guitar intro hook that captivates the senses immediately, a ‘National’ style drum pattern follows, slowly building up the recording but very gently and subtly. It then turns with the band blending perfectly raising the stakes even further; vocals build beautifully and somehow I have been taken off this earth and am floating amongst planets and stars, in between light and dark. The view, with this soundtrack playing through my headphones, is spectacular, as a memorable guitar hook ends the song.
I feel strangely uplifted, my mind light years away from the sofa and my kids watching tv beside me. These guys are young but have a musical pedigree, that is plainly apparent but something else too; No boundaries both musically and lyrically! Maybe I could happily sit and while away the time, soaking in the sun, drinking and eating in Parmisan style and being cool; but if they really want it, they can be journey bound and fulfill their ‘Earthist’ concept. I have a feeling, more than the stars, it’s strictly up to them.
Check out some of the songs on You Tube. Interesting little videos too it has to be said.