What's your stance on people who list their equipment as just their computers? I know Dain Saint composed all of Earthbound's music using his laptop and the music production software of Propellerhead's Reason 6. Yet, the music sounds like it was recorded in jungles and woods where playful beats and thoughtful orchestration reign supreme. Are musicians getting more proficient with the programs they use or are the programs becoming that much more immersive?Saint created the album while on a cross-country trip from Philadelphia, PA to Culver City, CA. The tracks are named accordingly after the sights and locations of Saint's three-day trip. "4 A.M. (Philadelphia)" opens with artificial flutes moving in and out of a scrappy beat pattern until brass horns help end the introductory song with a bang. It's a suspiciously dynamic track for being named after an hour when most alcoholics are turning in, but it's here you know you've found something special.
Earthbound finds itself at ease when it experiments with lounge music, jazz and hip-hop. This makes for a very pleasurable listening experience, such as the space-pop throwback of "Sunrise Capitol (Washington, DC).” Then there are songs like "The Mountain (Virginia)" where evangelistic organs provide the foundation for righteous keyboards to dance on. Saint doesn't make it clear if the locales inspired the songs or if it was simply a matter of convenience for him to name them as such. The cyclical beats and piano melody in "Iron (Cincinnati)" is meticulously composed to sound like an iron mill, but the piano doesn't quite work. The piano claims another victim in the next track, "Wind Farm (Indiana),” where some wub-wub sounding sample captures the essence of wind until Saint introduces the piano and then it's more like a foggy morning in the city than a desolate drive next to an alternative energy source.
From there, Saint moves to futuristic breaks and ominous string orchestration with "Lattice (Chicago),” chaotic tribalism in the Ratatat-inspired "7582 ft. (Colorado/New Mexico),” and jaunty drumming with a loopy keyboard in the inappropriately titled "Red Plateau (Arizona).” Finally, Saint arrives at his destination to hung-over piano playing and plodding-to-pulsating beats in "Breaking The Fog/Bright New Day (Los Angeles),” a strong closer sounding every bit as if a native Angel composed it.Though not strictly improvised, the songs still find themselves in that fun zone where it feels like anything can happen, even if Saint doesn't allow all the time to make them work. The sound changes, but there never seems to be any bridge between tracks. Not really a bad thing, but since the album is more or less a musical diary I was expecting some kind of growth rather than a lateral sonic shift. The tracks are peppered with surprises, and you may find an interesting musical interpretation of America's many landscapes while listening to Earthbound.
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