Thoughtful music about the inifitely small and The Infinitely Big, from an ensemble featuring woodwinds, brass and guitar, and the unadorned vocals of composer Josh Stamper.
The Skin, The Sea, The Sound
Label: Good Behavior
8 tracks / 45:18 minutes
Three years after the wonderful Interstitials project, Joshua Stamper is still dealing with things in-between ...more specifically, Stamper creates songs that fit somewhere in between genres and often deal with the spaces between our selves and our God. The quiet spirtuality on The Skin, The Sea, The Soound is as small as insects on the forest floor and as big as the cosmos.
On The Skin, The Sea, The Sound, brass and woodwinds flutter and pulsate, guitars play patterns and melodies, and vocals carry evocative lyrics through the tapestry of sound. Intricate ensemble playing masquerades as primal ritual while the composer's words transform from simple song lyrics to poetry with musical accompaniment.
"To the one-winged sparrow, to the bone without marrow
You whistleless kettle, you field choked with nettles
To the mute allegorist, to the stump in the forest
O bow without arrows, O window too narrow
Your time will come, your time will come ..."
Stamper's pleasant vocals play to the ear like another instrument, never overly ornamental, always functional, very human. The mirror-universe opposite to a typical American Idol riffing contest, the vocals are pure – occasionally double-tracked and sometimes doubled by an octave, just the right voice to be carrying on the dialog with The Creator that often emerges on The Skin, The Sea, The Sound. Appropriately, much of the conversation acknowledges our inability to comprehend The Creator – From "Pattern Maker":
"Pattern maker, Pattern breaker,
you've gotta grip, you've gotta grip around my heart.
For you, I need a better telescope. O you, you are off the charts.
My instruments break, my readings won't take
I want to be with you. I want to be with you..."
If nothing else, this should illustrate the futility of trying to put 'Praise and Worship' music in a musical box.
The style is hard to pigeon-hole. Certainly not pop, the music is likely to turn unexpected corners without warning. The musicians, Paul Arbogast (Low Brass), Mike Cemprola (Woodwinds), Jon Rees (Woodwinds), Ruth Naomi Floyd (Vocals), Thomas Bendel (Drums), Emil Nikolaisen (Effects, Electronics), and Joshua Stamper (Vocals, Guitars, Synths, Compositions) create a musical world of their own - one that seeks to reconcile body and spirit, intellect and soul.
This is not the place to look for screaming guitar solos or pop hooks – for those who have ears to hear and a heart willing to explore, The Skin, The Sea, The Sound will provide a musical starting point for some reflection about things that are much bigger than we are and to realise that we, in turn, are infinitely smaller than we might think we are.