Sometimes it's hard to write a review. I have found that this is in no way related to the quality of the album in question. It is just as hard to describe why you like something as it is to describe why you don't like something. At least, for me it is.
Whole Ghosts, the second album from Richmond, VA's Cinemasophia, came out in December. I have had it practically since then, and although i enjoy it and have listened to it dozens of times, the review has been slow going.
Why? Well, it's just so hard to describe what is happening here. At times, Cinemasophia play punk, IDM, math rock, indie pop, lo-fi, and shoegaze. Sometimes all in the same song! How can you talk about that?
Well, i finally thought of a comparison, after dozens of listens. Whole Ghosts is the logical successor to what Hood were doing on The Cycle of Days and Seasons. That is to say, there is a whole lot going on, and yet somehow it doesn't seem schizophrenic. Rather, this is the sound of a band experimenting and stretching their boundaries.
And, more often than not, succeeding.
Before i get into the songs, a short history lesson. Cinemasophia is the band built by one Landis Wine (what a great name!), a gentleman from Richmond who used to record as Josephine the Singer. He released an album as Cinemasophia back in 2004, and it was favorably reviewed here sometime thereafter.
In the intervening time, Mr. Wine has solidified his band's lineup, apparently toured (coming no where near Atlanta, i have noticed), and refined their sound. That is to say, the eclectic nature of the songs here is a natural evolution of the sound on Dialectic.
There are several very noteworthy tracks here. Of particular interest is No Daughters, which meanders around as a lo-fi pop song with some nice female backing vocals courtesy of Brook Miller, then solidifies suddenly and unexpectedly with a deep math rock groove that Cinemasophia seem to have stolen from Shipping News. And then, even more unexpectedly, the overdrive comes on, and the song is buried under a weight of whining, chiming distortion of the type Kevin Shields made famous on Loveless. When i read this description, i think it won't work -- too chaotic and jumpy. And yet, somehow when they do it, the changes seem natural and organic. Fascinating.
I also like Halls of Black Eyes, which features several very nice layers of guitar distortion, and the epic Soft Cinema, which features odd IDM style distorted bits here and there, for extra texture among the general pop song framework.
Overall, this is fine work. I know that some people are bothered by this level of eclecticness (had this not been an issue, Hood would be bigger than Radiohead, in some other, more just world), but if you have the patience to sit through it, what Cinemasophia are doing is both rewarding and interesting. It's not easy to describe, or to review really, but it is worthwhile nonetheless.
I look forward to more from this band. I wonder what they will do next. (Please, Dear Music Gods, don't let them descend into hip-hop, as Hood did! Keep them on the path of righteousness, and indie pop!)