Artist: The Constellation Branch
Album: Mirage EP
Label: River Jones Music
Release Date: September 17, 2010
Reviewer: Eric Pettersson
- Fata Morgana
- Hold Your Own
- The Mirage
- Mad Hatter
The Constellation Branch entered the scene last year with their debut effort, The Dream Life, The Real Life, The Empty Glass. As a sort of Thrice meets Blaster the Rocket Boy meets Loverdrug meets… The Deadlines?… it was epic, hard, and complex. Their latest offering, Mirage EP, ups the ante on all counts, charging the band into fresh new territory.
First off, this album is not one for computer speakers. It is not to be played in the background. It is to be an experience all its own. Put it into your good sound system, crank the volume just a little too high, grab your favorite beverage, sink into a comfortable chair, and close your eyes.
The instrumental “Fata Morgana” instantly draws you in emotionally, pulling you up and down with each sweep of the mellow, spacey, and haunting guitar. Some bells chime ominously as voices whisper and wail in the background. The eerie tone breaks through into the hard-hitting “Hold Your Own,” the song most akin to their previous work. In general, this album is softer, spaced out, and mysterious. Many times, the simplicity is terrifying. Bright notes are played in a drawn-out fashion that eerily walks along the wall of emotions, and as a result the listener can never tell how to feel or what direction the song is going. The title track is a perfect example, though “Oneironaut” works almost as well. It’s slow, mellow, and slightly jazzy. Yet any minute I’m expecting it to break into the hardest song on the album. It never does, but there’s a heaviness in their mellow that makes me think it will. Things get hard again for “Mad Hatter,” which goes up and down through several phases, starting with a straightforward hard rock sound, then experimental indie post-rock, and eventually leading to what sounds like the vocalist channeling Janis Joplin over the heaviest of late 60’s rock and roll.
There is a feeling of emptiness in these songs, and I don’t mean that they’re missing something. It’s a careful work of art that confronts the listener with his or her own emptiness. I’m honestly not sure how they do it, and that is the brilliance to this release.