I've always been a firm believer that music doesn't need lyrics to convey a message.
This has been true time and time again. Even subconsciously, non-lyrical music (whether it's instrumental or synthetic) has an effect on us. Have you ever tried watching a horror movie on mute? You'll notice it's a lot less terrifying. Some people use sounds at different frequencies to heal themselves as a method of alternative medicine. A recent study has shown that video game soundtracks are designed specifically to amp up the player's mood and help them focus. One of my favourite artists, flatsound, has created a ton of lyric-free music over the years. He even runs a 24-hour ambient noise online radio station (which I love).
All that being said, I was really looking forward to checking out For All the Hope We Hold, an instrumental album by Skybound.
ALBUM: For All the Hope We Hold
RELEASED: June 15, 2018
GENRE: Alternative/melodic prog, instrumental
There's a lot to unpack here. I've noticed when a song goes on for too long or has a solo that just keeps going and going, you find yourself feeling impatient, wishing it would end. This is not the case For All the Hope We Hold. Throughout the whole album, I never felt like it was missing lyrics, or like it was just one long solo. From start to finish, the songs flow exceptionally well together.
Using only music, the album tells the story of a pilot who has crash landed on an unknown island in 1943. There is also a little booklet called The Traveller's Almanac (to be released later this year) full of journal entries to go along with each song, to help the listener understand what the pilot is going through. I was given a sneak peek at what the Almanac looks like, but I won't be posting any spoilers here. Besides, it's more fun to listen to the album yourself and try to figure out what's happening.
There's really no better way to describe For All the Hope than controlled chaos. From start to finish, it's quite well organized. Each song has a distinct flow, and this album is really one that you have to listen to in order. Even though there are no lyrics, it never felt like anything was missing. It was so easy for me to just sit down and listen to this album from start to finish. Unless you're really paying attention, it's hard to tell where one song ends and the next begins. Which I loved, because I believe the sign of a good story is one that you don't even realize is getting told.
When the album opens up with 'Void', we hear this slow echoing, almost like someone is struggling to breathe. The only words in the album come next, describing the pilot's exhaustion and loss. From there, the track fades in an out of all these rifts. The first three songs on the album are the most chaotic, but like I said earlier, it's a totally controlled chaos. Every note seems to make sense.
As the songs go on, you can really visualize the pilot wandering around on this island, trying to find something to prove he's not alone. The last minute of the second track, 'The Peach Arbor,' has such fast drumming and cymbals that it actually made me anxious to listen to, but that's kind of the point, You really get to feel the pilots anxiety and desperation from being stranded on the island.
But the panic subsides as the track melts into 'Moonflower,' the next song. Now, this one doesn't need lyrics to tell you the pilot feels sad. It isn't until around the middle of the album, with tracks like 'Time Tessellates' and 'Nova' that the chaos begins to calm down. It's almost as if the pilot is finally readjusting to his life on the island, and he's starting to enjoy it. But that feeling doesn't last. The next song, 'The Tempest,' comes and really rips the listener out of their comfort zone. I could visualize this huge storm just coming out of nowhere and destroying everything in its path. Everything the pilot had built up for himself.
The album finishes off with 'The Secret Life of Birds.' I believe this was the perfect way to end the album. Clocking in at nearly 12-minutes, this song has so much to it (think Green Day's 'Jesus of Suburbia'). There are birds chirping in the background at the beginning, and the guitar part around seven minutes in is my favourite on the whole album. This part then echoes itself a few minutes later, almost like its a reflection. I like to think that this symbolizes the pilot reflecting on his time on the island. Towards the end of the song, there's this echo of a ukelele. This was very interesting to me because the ukulele is usually associated with sunny, tropical islands and really doesn't represent the emotional state of an abandoned pilot. It's never made clear if he makes it off the island and gets back home, but the short ukelele part at the end makes me think he doesn't. The instrument isn't playing sadly, it's quiet and happy. He's reflecting on himself and his time on the island and he's finally made it into his home. He's at peace with himself as the music fades out.
Overall, this is a great album. it tells a really unique story and the music is so incredibly well thought out and organized. Each song brings something different and keeps the listener hooked. even if you aren't a fan of instrumental music, you should still check it out. It's unlike any other album I've heard before, and I can't wait to see what Skybound does next.
It's easy to see why this song was my favourite. Simply put, there's so much happening in the song, I really couldn't think of a better way to conclude the album. The song reflects on itself and the pilots time on the island. And unlike the other songs, this one doesn't sound like the pilot is being tortured. He's finally grown to love the island.