posted on 10/2009 By:
Challenging to review, but pleasant to listen to, albums like Tertia are incredibly difficult to encapsulate in words. There are times when I have to completely remove my critical hat and attempt to simply experience music for what it was intended: enjoyment. Does this move me? Do I feel anything, and how so? Some of you prefer robotic, mechanically emotionless reviews, but I cannot do this with Caspian. We are human. We are designed to emote, to be touched by the rise and fall of the breath of sound, and without a commanding voice to carry it in this instance, Tertia is a vast mural of Neur/Isis sound that must precariously stand strong on its own. It manages to do so, but not without consequence.
It is true that beauty is subjective, but to my ear, this is a simply beautiful album. “Ghosts Of The Garden City” is an absolutely stunning display of shimmering dynamics, intense rhythmic build, and smooth transitioning the likes of which Callisto should admire. At times you can hear a semblance of vocals floating nearly unheard in the vast depths of the background, as if the band knows a human element must be present even in some miniscule form in the tapestry of tones, like on “Malacoda”. The instrumental base is still refreshing, however, and there are only a few times where a violent scream, or wordless roar could have enhanced the proceedings.
“Of Foam And Wave” is breathtakingly windy, eventually taking a break into an acoustic contrast before launching right back into a sweeping crescendo that reminds me of Cave In’s superb Jupiter in spirit, mostly by incorporating a hefty amount of stomp in the percussion department. The piano that closes the track was a nice touch, just enough to add flavor without losing sight of the structure. The three guitars in use are predictable but inoffensive: the acoustic one makes things pretty, and the other two bring the psychedelic air, and occasionally ferocious thunder, so no surprises as to the general beast we’re dealing with here. The production, however, is what makes this disc so compelling. It’s almost at fault for being so damn flawless, highlighted on excellent tracks such as “The Raven”, and is one of the best sonic experiences I’ve had this year.
For an hour Caspian takes you on this journey through now well-worn sound, but they also prove this is not a genre that is on its last legs just yet. Their artistry gets the better of them by the time it’s over with though, since it’s hard to remember pinpoint specific riffs or patterns that haunt and echo after it’s over. These tracks are entirely interchangeable, which is both good and bad because if you’re a shuffle-play type of person, you can experiment with the order and still end up with the same result no matter how you tweak the track listing. The ebb and flow occurs so many times with so few interruptions, it all just sort of comes and goes after a while, and I just wish more had stuck with me once “Sycamore” comes to a pounding conclusion.
It’s a feeling like I’ve been through an exhausting experience, but can’t quite remember what happened when it’s over. Being critical for the sake of it is not easy, since getting swept away in Tertia is so very effortless and painless to surrender to. This is headphone music of highly versatile order, for evenings of sorrow, afternoons of introspection, or on that long ride home from an emotionally draining visit with someone who has put you through the wringer. So, please forgive my vague descriptions, but Caspian have laid their hands upon me and left the indescribable sensation that I’ve just heard something rather special, and they’ve taken a piece of me with them, while leaving a part of themselves with me.
But isn’t that what good music is supposed to do in the first place? Enjoy the trip, it’s worth the price.
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