Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Cemeteries - Barrow (2015)

Since the release of his debut album The Wilderness in 2012, Kyle Reigle aka Cemeteries has essentially been working on his follow up record. It's a process that led ultimately to another musical outlet in the form of electronic side project Camp Counselors, a tour with Teen Daze, and a cross country move with band mate and record label co-founder Jonathan Ioviero of Seismograph. And yet there's no denying upon listening to Reigle's follow up Barrow, a record nearly three years in the making that it was ultimately just the right amount of time needed for the album to properly gestate.

Barrow finds Cemeteries at a crucial juncture: not only has Reigle learned to follow his musical instincts more via Camp Counselors but much of the small town ennui that fueled The Wilderness is gone, replaced instead by a new appreciation and an almost nostalgia for his home now that Reigle's put a considerably amount of distance between it and him. Though most of the songs were written in Reigle's new Portland digs, Barrow is inspired in part by summers at his grandparents lakeside cabin in Fair Haven, NY. That and his borderline unhealthy relationship with horror films.

On Barrow, Reigle leans far harder into his horror movie love than he allowed himself to do on The Wilderness but which formed much of the backbone of the Camp Counselors record Huntress. From summer camp set horror films, to witches and vengeful spirits, and John Carpenter's The Fog, Reigle is in rare form on Barrow and allows a sense of malaise to permeate his lilting dream-like atmosphere. Much of Barrow's sense of unease resides in Reigle's use of space and primal percussion and the subtle turns of Reigle's supple gliding vocals that shift from delicately gorgeous to chillingly eerie and back again effortlessly. But even when Reigle's sings off death by burning, and bloody homicides, they're approached subtly and almost poetically. "In the night they'll find you all alone, with the color red surrounding your throat" Reigle sings on "Sodus".

There's several moments reminiscent of The Wilderness on Barrow. "Can You Hear Them Sing?" recalls "Summer Smoke" but for each moment spiritually linked to The Wilderness there are about five that are wholly new, and freshly invigorated. By allowing himself to toil in subjects not only of his own choosing but of his own infatuation, there's an odd sense of contendedness, Reigle doesn't allow his enthusiasm to run amok or distract from the moods he tries to convey but it's there, pulsating underneath his songs, galvanizing them forward to completion even if like 7 minute album ender "Our False Fire On Shores" they take their time with getting there. It informs the care Reigle pays to his songs like "Luna (Moon of Claiming)" and its slow build towards its majestic layered rush.

For a record as long in the making as Barrow, it avoids the trap of feeling like impatient rush job though Reigle's quiet enthusiasm. Part of this is no doubt due to the new perspective granted by viewing and working on the album from a new vantage point both literal and figurative. With its release Reigle was quick to thank fans for their support but Barrow is easily a work of internal triumph; a step towards musical self-actualization. Barrow feels like a record Cemeteries would have put out regardless of if anyone was at all interested and that is perhaps what makes it such a strong record for Reigle.

Listen to Cemeteries sophomore record Barrow now and download as pay-as-you-want or purchase a physical edition of either murky lake green from Track and Field Records or fog grey LP or black and white cassette from Reigle's own Snowbeast Records.

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