Even before you have delved too deep into the music that Eric Terino makes on his latest album, you find yourself touched by its delicate grace via the opening track, Felt, which gives an indication that what is to follow is a journey through the graceful rather than merely the groovesome, that this is an album created from tones and textures, rather than from the usual rock and roll riff-a-ram, sucker-punch moves and volume over virtuosity. And as first impressions go, it sets out the musical stall perfectly, and those first impressions do indeed reveal themselves to capture the nature of the album succinctly.
we languish in waves
remembering our dreams.
Take A Snowfall At Dusk, for example, not just an emotive and poetic title but one that is mirrored by the music found within. Shimmering harps describe those flakes as they fall gently through a cold night, the vocals drifting around in a sort of hushed reverence and little else needed to create the perfect symbiosis between sound and subject matter. Similarly, Boulder is built from slowly rolling musical flows and An Augury of Hope (you have to love Terino‘s dedication to cool titles) is a gorgeous assemblage of fractured and disparate sounds that are drawn together in a wonderful patchwork quilt, a sweeping and swooning violin seemingly the glue which holds it all together.
But the stand-out track, in an album of stand-out tracks (or at least so understated and well crafted that they stand out…if you see what I mean), is Body Gets Stoned. Again, built of a delicate sound pallet and reminiscent of something that the likes of Damien Rice might have been responsible for, a collage of hushed vocals and distant trumpets, wandering violin, and ebbs and flows of beauty and minimalist sonic building blocks.
Ghosts surround me,
they’re draped from every branch on every tree.
They summon me to lay
my weary body out with them constantly.
Like so many albums seeing the light at the moment, Innovations…is the product of the lockdown era, the basic ideas, and structures beginning life in a be-forested New England home studio before all manner of contributions and musical ideas were garnered remotely from across the globe. Cello tracks were flown in from Russia, French horns gathered in from Italy, harps from the UK and there was even room for a musical saw courtesy of Greece. And adding those gorgeous additional vocals (the Liza Hannigan to his Damien Rice?) is Jolie Holland.
Every body gets stoned
and every one is dethroned.
Now we have no place to go,
so let’s all just go home.
And of Body Gets Soned, Terino says that “it’s a Buddhist kind of mentality, that all is as it is and will be as it will be. So there’s no point in fighting upstream. Ultimately the solution to any struggle is in letting the river take us where we need to go, which in my opinion… is home.” I think that is actually the mantra for the creative process behind the album as a whole, whether it was done consciously or not. There is something so wonderful about being faced with the daunting task of trying to record an album during such isolation and finding a solution that not only overcomes the hurdles but creates a whole new way of working, a new attitude and atmosphere that becomes so much more than a solution to a problem. Remote collaboration might have begun as a fix for a difficult situation but I’m sure that Eric Terino, like many others of late, has come, through experience, to understand the real beauty, musically, socially, mentally and otherwise, of such a way of working.
It’s a wonderful album, one which is easily accessible as a body of work yet filled with rich texture and hidden depth. It is an album built on the layering and arrangement of small slices of music which, when taken as a whole, resonate with the beauty of a sublime and unique listening experience. Gorgeous is a word that I know I have vastly overused whilst writing this review but until a better word comes along to describe the sonic forces that Eric Terino controls and builds from, I’m afraid that it will just have to do.
The blood of time is on my hands.
Reveries dance through greyed vignettes.
Dissonance can drown these revelations now.
Evocations of the past are roped to what wouldn’t last.