There is a softness to the recent release Veins of the Earth by Al Helperin. I was reminded of the aesthetics I feel when listening to The Microphones. Helperin’s vocal delivery never strains and almost feels fragile. That softness is also apparent in the instrumentation. The guitars are plucked gently and atmospheric pads add to the overall hum of Veins of the Earth.
Helperin does a very good job at making the album cohesive. There is certainly a unified feel to all the songs. He starts off with “Headlights” which is a lush, expanding song. The vocals sound almost monotone but I say that in a good way. It works with the music. The lyrics actually read like the very music that is being played. He sings, “Soft light swells around me / Like smog on a distant city / A city full of people left behind.”
The introduction of a prominent acoustic guitar on “Deconstruct” is a well-executed transition from the opener. His vocals are full morose and the lyrics seem to revolve around his own death. He sings, “You killed me near a beach last night / Sailed me out, no land in sight / Threw me off, it all went black / What form I'll take when I come back If I'm coming back?”
“Pale Orange Skies” is another solid effort and the band Low came to mind. The vocal melody really holds down the track from feeling like it's going on too long. Even the drums of “Tracks” have a soft quality to them. The instrumentation is exceptional on this track and sounds similar to the quieter moments of Mogwai.
“I Will Not Become a Ghost” has a memorable vocal melody along with a section that breaks down into white noise. Great stuff. On the closer “Veins of the Earth” Helperin ponders big questions. He sings, “I don't know if everything matters / Each moment cascading together / And in a way they reach significance / Do they think of the end is it simply an endings of moment / That swell and fade any existence.”
Veins of the Earth isn't without some flaws but there is a lot to enjoy on the album. Helperin doesn’t overdo the melancholy and balances the mood and songwriting with expertise. Recommended.
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