Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Caspian - The Four Trees

Artist: Caspian
Album: The Four Trees
Label: Dopamine
Year: 2007

01. Moksha
02. Some Are White Light
03. Sea Lawn
04. Crawlspace
05. Book IX
06. The Dropsonde
07. Brombie
08. Our Breath In Winter
09. The Dove
10. Asa

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After blowing up in the local underground with their highly acclaimed 2005 release of You Are the Conductor, the boys of Caspian have been hard at work maintaining their reputation as one of Boston’s greatest singer-less bands. Through constant touring and internet promotion during the past year, Caspian quickly gained recognition among tight-knit indie and “post-rock” communities across the globe. Now, the band has completed their first full-length album, The Four Trees, and is prepared to unleash it on the world. Harmonizing an intellectually rich atmosphere with an assertive rock n’ roll attitude, Caspian has crafted a refreshing angle on instrumental music that is definitely worth paying attention to.

In contrast to their debut EP You Are the Conductor, which showed the band more or less experimenting with techniques and getting the hang of things, The Four Trees is definitely a well-polished and complete work. Taking on a similar tone and style as their previous effort, this new album offers a comfortable return to Caspian’s classic sound while taking more time to fully develop and explore emotional extremes. The band lets delicate, ambient melodies linger and build slowly, often taking up entire tracks to do so. At the same time, the album’s climaxes are able to reach soaring new heights of intensity, erupting in waves of distorted riffs and pounding percussion that are somewhat surprising but also very effective. In addition, the album as a whole takes on a deliberately cyclical path, starting out with the gentle and uplifting “Moksha,” building up to exceptionally aggressive tracks like “Crawlspace” and “Brombie” and then slowing descending back into the serene “Reprise.” All of these elements combine to make The Four Trees an especially passionate collection of tracks, setting the stage for a spellbinding journey of highs and lows.

With the completion of this first full album, Caspian have undoubtedly attained a secure foothold in the modern instrumental scene. Past complaints about the band having excessive similarities to other instrumental acts such as Explosions in the Sky may still be somewhat valid, but The Four Trees clearly helps to diminish this notion. While they do implement a fair share of trendy techniques and playing habits (massive amounts of effects, delay pedals, repetitious playing, etc.), it’s carried out with a certain artistic edge that clearly doesn’t detract from their sound. Furthermore, The Four Trees shows the band venturing into much more aggressive territories than most of their genre-buddies would ever dare go, and this says a lot about their drive for originality. Although they may have originated from the midst of a modern underground trend, Caspian have proved that they certainly aren’t just following the crowd anymore.
- Sean Butze (

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