Album Review: Innovations of Grave Perversity | Eric Terino
I won’t open this review with the usual small talk but I’ll declare straight up excited for coming across the latest release of Eric Terino titled ‘Innovations of Grave Perversity’ which introduced me to an artist I wish to see recognized in a worldwide scale soon. Here we are dealing with an old romantic soul, lucky enough to have been trapped into a young, multi-talented creator exploring matters of the heart and troubles of the mind in today’s world. Let’s get right into it.
‘Felt’ betrays pretty quickly that Terino is emphasizing on songwriting as well as deserving ethereal performances that elevate his words to the heavenly level they belong. And this bet is won triumphantly. ‘Felt’ is about the fear of being alone, seeking love and validation from the outside rather than inside, this way being led to constant hurt and guilt. The velvety, almost whispering vocals expose the burnout of the struggle for acceptance but at the same time sound healing for both us and Terino. Like licking his wounds after a battle. The Alan Poe - style approach of the following ‘Torture the Dead’ makes this a poetic masterpiece, like the dark, twisted painting at the center of an exhibition that everyone stops and stares. The restlessness of the piano here is accurately depicted on the album's cover artwork which portrays the artist as a renaissance figure exceeding worry and uncertainty, existing between the light and the dark. One could even parallel him to Jesus and I would find many connections there If I try to analyse such a comparison. Even though the poetry here is extreme –in a good way- the whole theme is compressed in one simple, yet powerful line: ‘Love can be so beautiful and so sad, it can kill the dying and torture the dead’. This is sadistically appealing. If I had to describe Terino’s sound I would call it Romantic Sadcore, originating from the Romantic era (1800-1850) where escapism and melancholy is the air itself. The classical arrangements are dramatic enough to reinforce this categorization and, together with the artist’s haunting delivery, we end up getting a well-brewed magic potion.
The charming, tickling harp that opens ‘A Snowfall at Dusk’ feels like a golden spider-web being slowly weaved with love and dedication, making the bed for Terino’s voice to rest in. The repetitive structure of the track makes it sound like an old fairy tale fabled vividly by the story-teller while the instrumental minimalism offers the space to transcend the listener into the most bewitched of forests. It’s about love, longing and the long lost innocence of youth. The imagery given is so rich and detailed that the song alone is enough to illustrate a fantasy-themed book. It’s like consuming a visual product through our ears. For all the reason’s above, ‘A Snowfall at Dusk’ reminded me of Bjork’s ‘Cosmogony’ or ‘Virus’ from Biophilia even though, instrumental-wise, it’s a hybrid of Biophilia and Utopia. The lyrical abstraction of ‘Invocations’ makes this piece a mysterious wonder for everyone to witness and give their own meaning, connect with it in their own ways. This is a true example of how poetry can gracefully turn into a song without obeying to rules or settling for anything less than pure, unfiltered expression and emotional honesty. The harmonizing and vocal performance reminded me of Asgeir for a while. Soft, unstrained and melodic as the leading musical instrument that it is.
And then ‘Boulder’ introduces a nostalgic jazz vibe to the equation and somehow sounds more earthly than its predecessors. It’s not easy to justify this statement though. The lyrics revolve around questioning our existence, our past and present, our actions. The line ‘I’m never leaving this damn house’ is sung repeatedly towards the end, exalting the agony of every introvert, every over-thinker on this earth. The eerie, almost unsettling opening of ‘An Augury of Hope’ does not prepare for the confident strings that come afterwards and this alone is a paradigm of how a classical piece of music can be contemporary at the same time. This gentle mix between the old and the new is found throughout this LP, making it an ideal introduction for an electronic listener to dive into more classical fields. ‘Body Gets Stoned’ is the track that plays in the background of every drinking scene in folk inns of Lord of The Rings, The Hobit, The Witcher etc. and the fact that Terino is a time traveling bard is now undeniable. Still, it’s one of those times we are reminded of his human hypostasis since most of his sound authors a fantastical, otherworldly entity. The album is closing with the most therapeutic, 7-minute lullaby that consists of the softest vocals so far, combined with a balanced mix of overwhelming strings, keys and flutes. ‘I Didn’t Live There’ may not be the most memorable moment of the journey but it sounds like the most fitting ending for a body of work of this kind. Impetuously sentimental, unapologetically long and exquisitely poetic.
Fans of artists in the likes of Asgeir, Tori Amos, Serpentwithfeet and even Bjork will find their next huge discovery in Terino’s music and I’m one of them. ‘Innovations of Grave Perversity’ is an excellent piece of modernized classic music with a mix that highlights the vocal layers, this way illuminating Terino’s sensational songwriting without stealing the thunder of the abundant, highly emotional instrumentals. Hands down, this is one of the best things that happened in the Indie music scene in the last few years and a 10/10 for me. Cheers!
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