Saturday, April 24, 2010

The River Empires - The River Empires:Epilogue (2010) (REVIEW)

The River Empires
Release Date:April 06, 2010
A tale of two children- Hayden and River, who stumble upon a mystery that will seemingly cost them their lives.

The River Empires (band) is the soundtrack to the movie trilogy, The River Empires I,II, and II. Six albums will span across three films, two for each installment. Yet as the films will be told from beginning to end of the tale, the soundtracks will be released from end to beginning. This debut record does is not part of the six soundtracks, but an Epilogue to the entire film trilogy that is yet to be revealed. It is not a conclusion, but a thematic look back on what has not yet come to pass. The idea of this first, two-disc debut of The River Empires (band) is to eventually, after the films and all soundtracks are released, be a nostalgic look back on the beginning to the end of a beautiful yet terrifying story known as The River Empires.

Volume 1
1 The River Empires Theme I
2 Overture In Thales Summer
3 Our Neighbor, The Earth
4 The Coventry
5 Galloping Through Day Blooms
6 The Harbourland
7 From Faye To Astral
8 A Toast To The Snake King
9 The First Message
10 Catacombs And Orchards
11 Three Tigers
12 Stag Hollow Fair
13 Lull Of Celeste
14 From Outside The Cellar
15 Vcias In The Pines
16 A Dimmer Lux
17 Lillius

Volume 2
18(1) Witches Blossom
19(2) The Curse Of Maybel Cains
20(3) Wildbriar
21(4) The Motorbike
22(5) The Pelican
23(6) The Backyard In Sparkles
24(7) Land Of Canoes
25(8) Theon, The Fox
26(9) An Elliptic Figure From Borelli
27(10) The Marching Of The Clocks
28(11) The Woods Of Northland
29(12) The River Empires Theme II

After four or five times all the way through hearing this 88-minute two-volume, 2-disc debut record, I have been pretty thoroughly won over. How or why that is? 1st of all, as for something that long that includes 29 track titles, it hardly feels that long. And the reason that is, the themes seem to flow from track-2-track. Many of the tracks are actually just short, under-1-minute movements (or sound bytes). Others are instrumental pieces that hardly over-extend their welcome.

But after a couple of times through, of course a lot of the memorable parts, themes or melodies do stand out.

Our Neighbor, the Earth
The Coventry
The Harbourland
A Toast to the Snake King
Three Tigers
From Outside the Cellar
A Dimmer Lux
Witches Blossom
The Curse of Maybel Cains
The Marching of the Clocks

Many of the elements about this record, that are worth noting, include: Suites, reoccurring themes, various chamber instruments including xylophone, (alto-saxophone?), cello, accordion, french horn, banjo, fiddle, and wonderful female vocal harmonies.

The lyrics and movements give the story a gradual yet still rewarding experience for the listener. Although not necessarily noticed until a few times through. Many songs have these sections that seem very meticulous. The themes are very rich, you can't help but get sucked in. Also it seems likely to notice many new things with each listening. Whether it be lyrically, or some subtle arrangement in the music.

This album very effectively tells a story, or paints a picture, while avoiding cheesiness, melodrama, or even pretentiousness. Something to keep in mind, is the fact it is a soundtrack for what is three motion pictures, the lead creator, Jessy Ribordy, plans to head up. It has the name "Epilogue" as part of it's title due to the fact it is the music that is a soundtrack for the entire story. What order the movies will be made-in, to go with these seven volumes (there will be five more volumes/albums as it states above). And whether the films will be made after the whole series of albums are finished being released, or as they are being-made, remains to be seen. But that is definitely something to follow in the future of this band/project.

This really doesn't include much guitar. In spots, there is some, but it's amazing how well the music works despite that fact. But for that reason, it doesn't seem like it has much actual "rock" sound, if there is such a thing. But the different instruments, including piano and drums, really fill the sound well enough. My guess is Casey Crescenzo had a fair amount to do with that and what is excellent production quality, very much on the level or worthy of the last two The Dear Hunter album's production.

This album could be described as folk, chamber-folk, chamber-bluegrass, progressive-folk, or many other things. I don't find it matters by lacking guitar, a highly technical or heavy part, it's style in no way hurts it's unique quality. In fact, I'd say it makes it more original. How many artists have combined folk and bluegrass music, this way? Not many. Sufjan Stevens or The Decemberists I suppose, but not really how this whole project is being approached with a story-arc and the music accompanying films (or the music really being "soundtracks" for the movies, rather than the other way around).

It also seems to be promoted or mentioned via some christian sources. I guess Jessy Ribordy and Josh Shroy's previous band, Falling Up, had some of their music lumped-in with the Christian Rock scene. But there is not much, if any obvious evidence of christian music on here. At least from hearing it enough times, even without reading the lyrics (yet). King's X and Mute Math were at one point treated as Christian Rock as well, but they never were.

I really can't recommend this record enough as I'd say it's probably the most ambitious album I've heard since Apes and Androids "Blood Moon" in 2008. And The Dear Hunter fans especially could find it worth their while given Casey actually is a member and is quite notice-ably involved with the song writing, album arrangement, and the production.


Do I think it will catch on? it may, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was years from now instead of now. How much have Apes and Androids caught on? nuff said.