Cactus Island is a progadelic folk rock band based in Boston, MA. They say that they write songs about trees, bees, octopuses and the trappings of the human mind. Additionally, they strive to bring as many people as possible to a state of oneness through their music. I can’t say I achieved Advaita Vedanta or nondualism through their music but I did appreciate their tunes.
They open with “Beautiful Specter” and the vibe here is a little Fleet Foxes, a little jam band and a little of the X-factor. The song is loose in feel but the instrumental performances are very tight and technically impressive. On top of that the song isn’t pop song catchy but the melodies do have a sing-along type quality. It’s a song that I definitely felt the six-plus-minute run time was worth it. Perhaps more than anything else this felt like a song that was meant to be experienced live.
Next up is “Ancient Lungs” which is the highlight and a little under nine minutes long. I loved the haunting way it opened with vocal harmonies and strings. In fact I really liked how still and subdued the song felt. There was little doubt in my mind the song would build and it does but it’s a fairly slow burn. The song goes into a number of interesting areas. There is a middle section which sounds like a waltz before the song comes to climax around the six-minute mark. The song slowly dissipates after that and eventually leads to complete silence.
Last up is “Bees (LIVE)” which is a lo-fi recording and this song in particular felt very much like a jam band. You could say it captures their live energy more.
As an engineer myself I thought the recordings were good. On that note I would have loved to have heard studio quality recordings. There is just so much subtlety in these songs that was getting lost. Recording a band live in a studio is mandatory at some point or at the very least I think handing these mixes to a professional mastering engineer would have some benefit.
Overall, this short EP was a good way of showcasing the band's talent. There is no doubt there is a lot to appreciate and I look forward to hearing more.
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