Published Apr 02, 2020Past Palms' new EP, Vernal, takes the listener to the New York-based artist's leafy, bright apartment. The songs, all of them, are extraordinarily full — they burst out of headphones, demand speakers and can't be fully enjoyed in AirPods. And, frankly, they deserve more.
"Vernal" opens slowly, like a rising sun, with bird sounds. A peaceful morning that, sonically, expands, and the bass line overpowers everything heard prior. Is that sparkle? Wind chime? Just a touch of magic? Fairy dust? It's a short intro song that fades out quietly, allowing a brief second to collect one's thoughts before diving right in.
Somehow simultaneously experimental, downtempo, ambient and lo-fi, Vernal commands attention. The energy in the loudest parts echo something about Alessandro Cortini's latest album, VOLUME MASSIMO, which the artist himself said must be listened to at a very high volume.
"Sun Storm" has strong drum patterns and artfully arranged loops that play coyly with texture. Instrumental music speaks at a different volume, and "Sun Storm," like the other tracks on the EP, is no exception. Past Palms uses a variety of synths and machines to make songs that sound complex, but comfortable to digest.
Penultimate track "Of Paradise" plays with beautiful, deepened vocal samples and toward the latter half, Past Palms bows his guitar for a warm sound. The bass washes over the listener, and a peaceful, quiet fade completes the piece.
Vernal is rich and textured, a beautifully arranged piece of music that somehow blends orchestral sounds with machine layering and jagged vocals. Soulful, ambient, lo-fi, experimental, and definitely downtempo, there are many words to potentially describe the music and genres being played with here. A strong sophomore release for Past Palms, and an excellent soundtrack to a day spent solo among one's houseplants. (Independent)