Music: Transient Songs: Cave Syndrome
Early last year I was exposed to Transient Songs, a solo project started by singer/songwriter John Frum that offered a mix of psychedelic rock, shoegaze and retro rock and featured introspective lyrics and an overall spacey atmosphere. While the group’s debut EP Plantation to Your Youth wasn’t exactly the best genre release of 2008 it did have plenty of memorable moments and was more than enough to make quite a few people curious and anxious for more. And Frum has not kept them waiting too long, as Transient Song’s debut full length Cave Syndrome improves on every element showcased on the EP. It’s still a little too short, but this release is stunning and a real step forward for Frum’s musical career.
The instrumentals on Plantation to Your Youth were interesting, but sometimes it seemed as though they spent a little too much time building up atmosphere than they did creating ideas that really had some substance to them. This has been addressed on Cave Syndrome, as not only are the spacey atmospherics intact but the riffs are much more memorable and listeners are actually going to remember them this time around. In addition to this, John Frum had some additional mixing and mastering help and as a result the arrangements are much more vibrant and seem to be absolutely bursting with energy. There’s a little more emphasis on melodic shoegaze on this effort, but occasionally Transient Songs does head back towards traditional psychedelic rock territory. However, despite the fact that the songwriting is much better than before listeners will still be left wanting more as the entire effort only lasts for 36 minutes. You will want to put this one on again once it has finished, but it does fly by just a little too quickly.
One of the things I noted about Transient Song’s previous material was how John Frum’s vocal arrangements added to the overall atmosphere as he often sounded as though he was off in the background singing underneath of the instrumentals. For Cave Syndrome he has brought his singing into the spotlight, and while it still has the tendency to get lost amongst the melodic instrumental arrangements this sense of directness is appreciated and helps the songs to have an identity of their own. Admittedly the instrumentals are still what listeners will notice the most, so the solos on tracks such as “The Cancer in Our Bloodlines” is appreciated, but I would still like to see what Frum is capable of pulling off when he really pushes his voice.
Transient Songs was a decent act back in 2008, but it was clear that it was a bedroom project that still had some growing to do. With Cave Syndrome, it appears that transformation has begun to happen and as a result the material is much stronger and more memorable than before. It is slightly disappointing that the overall length is just over half an hour, but perhaps this was a deliberate move as it will only leave listeners wanting more and waiting to see just where things go from here.
February 10, 2010