Thursday, November 20, 2014

Album Review: Rasplyn - "Scenes Through the Magic Eye"

Today's review is going to be of some music a little left of center. No grindcore, no brutal slamming guttural death metal, no smash-everything-around-you hardcore rap. Today we're going to look at something droning, psychedelic, and transporting. Today, we're reviewing Rasplyn.

Rasplyn is the solo experimental music project of Carolyn O'Neill, who is quite the busy bee these days. Between featuring on other releases like John 3:16's 2012 release Visions of the Hereafter - Visions of Heaven, Hell, and Purgatory, co-founding the Logan Square New Music Ensemble, directing short films, and managing Resolution Digital Studios, Carolyn still manages to put out a great debut album under the Rasplyn moniker.

Now, don't let that album cover fool you. I judged the book by it's cover on this one and went in to the album thinking it would be some cheesy new age music with some ham fisted middle eastern influences. Little did I know, Scenes Through the Magic Eye would contain some of this year's most interesting sounds.

The album is mostly classical or orchestral pieces composed by Carolyn herself, each accompanied by here reverb-laden, stereo-panning vocals flowing in and out of the tracks. The album does have a middle eastern flair to it, but it is definitely more subdued than I thought it would be. These influences are precisely that, influences. Rasplyn isn't defined by middle eastern tones and melodies, but uses them to her advantage. The tracks more often than not have some droning strings in the background with everything else floating overtop, creating a sort of shoegaze effect. The closest pieces of music I have to compare Magic Eye to would be John 3:16's Visions and to a lesser extent, some of Sunn O)))'s experiments with classical instruments. If Visions transports me to an isolated pond at night, Magic Eye brings me to a temple at the break of twilight. Something ancient and well before any of our times, but still preserved. While it's been overgrown with vines and foliage, it still stands, monolithic in the distance. As the album continues I explore the temple, finding remnants and fragments of the peoples and cultures that have visited it before me. Some morbid, some less so, but all of them engrossing nonetheless.

Rasplyn's debut album is something that definitely surprised me in a good way. To me, her music should really be a part of a soundtrack to a movie or video game, with its massive production and transporting qualities. 

Scenes Through the Magic Eye comes out on Mythical Records on November 30th. You can check out Rasplyn on Bandcamp, Facebook, and on her personal page.

That's all for now, folks! Jeremy, I'll see you in court.


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