O V E R V I E W
It’s becoming increasingly difficult to place any sort of a genre tag on a group like The Contortionist. The once upon a time progressive metalcore juggernauts have twisted and stretched their sonically purveyed artform to a state in which any newcomers of interest would not even believe that they once produced an album like Language. At the risk of providing too much of a history lesson, it was after this said album that the group truly begin to foray into new and uncharted musical territory. With the release of Clairvoyant,fans found the band pursuing a much cleaner and simpler sound with ne’er a scream or crunchy guitar to be heard. But this was not without what one would consider much deliberation amongst the members and a grueling planning process. What manifested was an absolute thing of beauty. Yes, it was a far reach from the ferocity the group had once displayed but it gained an impact and emotion unfounded on past releases. But why would anyone stop there? When a band can take such a high risk and have it pay off at such a grand scale, why wouldn’t you want to push the envelope once again on your next release? Which brings us to their upcoming EP, entitled Our Bones. It clocks in at a mere 14 minutes, and yet each song feels as if it takes on a life all its own, due to each track getting special attention as opposed to just slapping four songs together that all feel identical to one another. Once again, The Contortionist shows us their name is a perfect representation of what their music is capable of.
F L O W / L O N G E V I T Y / O R I G I N A L I T Y
Being that Our Bones is even short for an EP, at only four tracks, it’s slightly difficult to say whether the songs truly flow together or not when looking at it from an ease of listen standpoint. The transition between “Follow” and “Early Grave” is seamless, regardless of definitely being their own individual tracks and yet the only thing that seems to connect the latter song to “All Grey” is the fact that the “Early Grave” trails of in sound while “All Grey” builds up in volume from its introductory second onward. The song itself while beautiful in its own right, does stick out like a sore thumb so to speak in the fact that it’s a far different sound from any other track on the EP. I guess when look at the overall flow of each song regardless of transition, time signature, and overall sound the oddest track of all is the cover of Smashing Pumpkins 1995 hit, “1979”. It’s not odd in the way in which it sounds, it just almost doesn’t fit in with the other three songs. Thematically it works, and whether or not it was intentional to actually have the word ‘bones’ in almost every track, this song definitely fits the bill in that sense. The ‘odd factor’ if you will, lies with the fact that it just doesn’t feel like it belongs on an only 4 song EP. And that’s not even commenting on the fact that it sounds dangerously close to the original.
As far as whether this release will be given multiple spins overtime on anyone’s playlist depends solely on the individual listener. I hate to stress this over and over but it is ONLY 4 SONGS! I couldn’t for one second imagine the hard work, time, and soul burning effort that went into creating this, yet at the same time after two years since their last release, I would have hoped for a bit more. Especially when one song is actually even just one second under two minutes in length and another track is a cover. I feel as if this EP is a fantastic extension of a phenomenal history of releases, but I’m not sure how many times I would go back to actually play just it, itself.
The ‘originality factor’ is actually all relative. For a group like The Contortionist, these songs actually are a fresh new take on a sound that basically begun with Clairvoyant. Even though overall sonically it feels as if they continued what was started on that LP, it retains the fact that these truly are their own songs and could not simply be placed on a potential ‘deluxe edition’. Now, one thing I found on especially the first two tracks is the sound was quite reminiscent of the Deftones circa the Diamond Eyes–Koi No Yokan era (especially on “Early Grave”). I highly doubt this was intentional yet due to that fact it was hard to say this was a sound all their own. And when it comes to the cover…well…that isn’t their own at all and considering (as previously stated) that it does sound entirely way too close to the Smashing Pumpkins version it strips it of any originality the track itself could have had. Which came as a surprise considering all the unique traits of a band such as The Contortionist. Now, this isn’t to say they did not do a wonderful job on the song at all, it just felt as if they could have done more.
“Early Grave” is from the upcoming EP Our Bones Pre-order Our Bones: https://ffm.to/ourbonesep Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2RmZGvm Apple: https://apple.co/2x7NchT Follow The Contortionist: https://www.instagram.com/thecontortionist/ https://www.facebook.com/thecontortionist https://twitter.com/tcband The Contortionist Is: Michael Lessard Robby Baca Joey Baca Cameron Maynard Jordan Eberhardt Eric Guenther http://vevo.ly/MRWBme
V O C A L S / I N S T R U M E N T A T I O N
Even considering the fact that Michael Lessard has never been afraid to display his clean vocal abilities from day one until now, it was until Clairvoyant that the world got a definitive glimpse of the pure and unadulterated talent and range, he truly has. It’s hard to miss the screams these days with the simple fact that what the group has become an entirely new entity which does not require them to blow us away with their musical prowess in general. Whether for emotional impact or simply because Lessard and the rest of the group felt the moment called for it, there are snippets of yells and screams on the initial half of the EP, but they never take the forefront. Once again Lessard is focused on utilizing and expanding on his clean delivery to truly enrapture the listener and pull them into this musical journey. I wouldn’t say that he hasn’t traversed across any extremely new areas with what he’s capable of, but at the same time he definitely hasn’t backtracked either.
Instrumentally I wouldn’t say there’s a whole ton to talk about. That isn’t to say that each track does not have its own unique and beautiful sound, I just wouldn’t say that it’s anything ground-breaking or mind-blowing in its overall detail. But sometimes the beauty is in the simplicity of it all. Regardless of the fact that none of these songs are super intricate or complex instrumentally, they still soar and create an ambience rarely if ever heard before from The Contortionist. The instruments simplistic nature is actually what helps to create such a compounded and structured story. They are both beautiful and harmonious which creates something so incredible in the end.
C O M P O S I T I O N / P R O D U C T I O N
One thing (amongst many others) The Contortionist have always done in an immaculately concise and seamlessly manner is create a perfect cohesion between their words and sounds. When one truly takes the time to listen to instruments could almost sound as if they were the voice, and the singing as if it were the instrument. The subject matter, as important and impactful as it can be, almost doesn’t matter when the sheer talent from all parties involved overshadows anything else. Nothing is taken for granted when this group sits down to create each release. One could only imagine a group such as this painstakingly has a laser-focus on each and every detail that goes into creating each EP and album. That perhaps will be THE most memorable part of Our Bones.
The production alongside the wondrous writing is what helps to bring this music to life. Each sound and element is incredibly crisp and pure and breaths that much more heart and soul into each track. One pop in a pair of earbuds, close their eyes, and pick up on a new and different detail each time they listen, and that is exactly what you want as a takeaway from any release. A full and complete soundscape that lack of a better way of putting it, brings your music to life.
F I N A L T H O U G H T S
Not one person could have said this is exactly what they were expecting when The Contortionist came out with their next release. From both the overall sound to the fact that it’s only a 4 song EP, this as per usual was the unexpected. Not one true music fan ever wants to hear the same stagnant cookie-cutter sound churned out over and over from any group, let alone one as diverse as The Contortionist, and the group as showed us once again that, that will never be something they do. With each release they strive to become something more and that is what will help them to retain their legacy for years to come. Our Bones, while not necessarily being the definition of anything ground-breaking, has given the group the chance to try something new and different for them. They have created a harmonious and ambient trip for the listener and contributed a phenomenal addition to an already stellar release history. It is somewhat sad to think that after two years this was all they had in them, as that will be the lone thorn in many a fans side, but at the very least it is a more than enjoyable EP.