Music

Caspian: Tertia

With key tempo changes, well-spaced arrangements, and delicate instrumental insertions Tertia succeeds in capturing an earthen mood even as it scrapes the upper levels of the atmosphere.


Caspian

Tertia

Label: Mylene Sheath
US Release Date: 2009-09-15
UK Release Date: 2009-08-10
Label Website
Artist Website
Amazon
iTunes

Caspian’s full length debut The Four Trees garnered post-rock designations and accolades for the Beverly, Massachusetts group. It was sprawling, sweeping, and epic in scale and scope, covering a vast terrain of sonic qualities that typically accompany a genre that has been ambiguously referred to as crescendocore, which is to say that there is an intense buildup and release, making it the equivalent of a musical orgasm. Now, with their sophomore release, Caspian deftly escapes the pitfalls of bad posture and proudly presents Tertia with a richness that embodies the landscape of New England.

It needs to be said, however, that you’ve heard this kind of music before in the likes of Explosions in the Sky, A Northern Chorus, Joy Wants Eternity, and Do Make Say Think. In and of itself it is nothing new, and therein is the challenge for Caspian: how to make an increasingly inclusive sound seem new in the listener’s ears? It’s a given that the guitars will arc way above the median range of notes and chords, and that the percussion will fellow in parts equally tame and cacophonous as structure dictates. The bass, of course, will hold down the pulsing low end to level things out into an evenly crafted wall of sound. The only other options are to add vocals, which seems to be utterly taboo, or subtle new elements that can supersede monotony.

With wonderful range and vision Caspian has opted for the latter, introducing a thicker, heavier sound to “La Cerva” that veers momentarily toward something the folks at Southern Lord might appreciate. The cello is also utilized fantastically here, as well as on “Vienna” and album closer “Sycamore”. “Ghosts of the Garden City” begins with soft touches of the glockenspiel before entering a manic frenzy of conclusion. Caspian is also careful to change the pace from time to time, as with the gentle ethereality of “Epochs in Dmaj” and the soft patience of “Concrescence”.

Accompanying the music is a lyrical piece included as an insert to the CD package. The poem by J. Bennett Bonilla, titled “Tertia – Or Reverie,” is complimentary to the swirling collage of Caspian’s music, and is best read while the album plays in the background in alternating states of the serene and stentorian. And that’s the best part of Tertia, the graceful meditative ease it affords the listener, even at its most clustered.

When it’s over Tertia is proof that Caspian has worked hard to create a cohesive album that transcends the music industry’s tendency to categorize everything into a convenient label. Post-rock, avant garde, shoegaze, crescendocore; these are just terms that indicate a certain style of music but not the identity of the bands themselves. They are as arbitrary as the lofty heights their purveyors often seek, and Caspian knows it. With key tempo changes, well-spaced arrangements, and delicate instrumental insertions Tertia succeeds in capturing an earthen mood even as it soars to scrape the upper levels of the atmosphere. But, to be sure, it doesn’t matter what you call it, as long as you know that it’s really, really good.

8

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less
6

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less
Theatre

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less
10

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less
7

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image