I won’t have to explain to most of you reading this the value of a good breakup album. From The Cure’s Disintegration to Beck’s Sea Change, these hour-long or so projections that split sorrow and regret painfully equally hit us right in the everything. Hopefully they’re only relatable in retrospect, but to those for whom the latest album Tomb by Angelo De Augustine arrives right on time, strap in.
The high holidays have come and gone without leaving us out to dry for more Christmas albums that so often damn their creators to the depths of “Oh, yeah! That’s who this was”, but human themes that go beyond an annual event live on. This one cuts straight to the heart. So light a candle while you wait for the water to boil, because Tomb comes with bated breath in a quiet place.
Produced by notable musician Thomas Bartlett, whose work spans the releases of Rhye, St. Vincent and Sufjan Stevens, Tomb opens a door seldom touched by the mainstream and keeps our attention with the lo-fi bedroom ambience delivered to us long ago. We are brought up to date with nuanced themes of personal growth through adversity and a more open approach to painful thoughts. This is what connects the artists above with the rest of us who can’t stay away.
The opening track of this feat is “Tomb”, title track of this full length and revives the healthy yearning we felt when it made the rounds. This soft intro keeps it cozy with the sole and soulful tones of string and voice in concurrence – its choral break speaking out like your coy inner angel.
While listening to this record, I must admit I was jumping between difference things and laughing openly at classic art memes. I nearly missed the subtle illumination of my imagination per “Tide”, Angelo’s projection of sea foam waves ebbing gently behind the halfway mark. Elegantly flaunted fabric strings flowed as if carried by the force of their own airwaves.
“Tide” plucks away with echoing pain of piano keys that resonate with unreciprocated love. Tragic lines for such a lovely song, but it is the point, of course. “Somewhere Far Away from Home” is a clear demonstration of the album’s steps of grieving, specifically bitter acceptance of the moment. We’re moving. We’re moving. We’re moving on and out of this here town and not looking back. Cut us some slack, after all. We’re almost over the hill. The battle is waning in our favor.
The album throughout listens like a beckoning whisper – not just the musical piece whose impression we are set beneath. A whisper of course is low enough for most to miss, but for those with finely tuned ears is clear as day. The minimalism at this level perfectly highlights the intent of De Augustine’s outflow, barring pretense and ego from any participation. And this isn’t some bland background healing music, but doesn’t place itself above that. Tomb is truly meant for everyone with a personal ax to grind. Retrospection rules.
Angelo De Augustine’s ‘Tomb’ strays no further than the tones of its light textures in allegiance with minimalist forebears. Of course this in itself isn’t anything to fault (remember – breakup album), redemption in its conclusion is blurred against the background of its theme.
review by Justin Bieggar