~ Josh Kline, Urban Tulsa Weekly
Release Date: 11-January-2009
Genre: Visual / Avant-Garde Rock / Alternative
Publisher: [c] 2008 Brass Ltd.
Label: Brass Ltd.
Time: 1h 03m 39s
Review Date: 23-May-2012
Jivewired Digital Press Kit: http://jivewired.com/deadseachoir
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01. Charismatic 5:42
02. Oriental Drippo 5:47
03. Move It Child 5:11
04. Image D93 7:08
05. Option 3:09
06. 230 11:07
07. The Abyss 5:20
08. On The Up and Up 6:30
09. The Ceiling 4:02
10. Antagonist 2:42
11. Old Man Winter 7:01
Lush and brilliantly done, Thin One The Red One by Dead Sea Choir is a grandiose effort that is rich and full, if not at times overachieving, but nonetheless a full blend that is a timeless and lovely debut. Taking nearly three years from conceptual blueprint to release, the ambitious and powerful effort is the result of a project created by Costa Stasinopolous and Daniel Gimlin. The collaborative result is a strong album that is as much a stark, layered and visual effort as it is a sonic wonderment.
Thin One The Red One has an enigmatic indie pulse. It's songs tend to change tempo suddenly and often dramatically. Though it makes it at times difficult to follow, it also works conceptually in it's favor. The twists and turns are incredible at times, even thrilling. That type of ebb and flow is generally not found in a debut release, let alone a debut release of this nature. The dramatic interplay tells an epic story, and if the LP is not by definition a true concept album, it certainly straddles that delineation existentially. Lyrical themes approach life and after-life as a series of never-ending conflicts; creation versus destruction; beauty versus deformity; life versus death; harmony versus cacophony; God versus Lucifer; man versus all of the above.
As a vocalist, Stasinopolous often works in his upper register in smooth transition that can either work in harmony or purposeful conflict with the arrangements. The result is often awe-inspiring and you will immediately recognize the Thom Yorke comparisons. Songs like On The Up and Up, The Ceiling and 230 are great examples. Each represents an ever-present game of musical one-upmanship between the vocals and the instrumentation/arrangements that is chillingly sublime. The Ceiling is a soaring and simply majestic crescendo-building masterpiece that segues perfectly into Antagonist, another sonically resplendent effort that oozes string laden beauty over tumbling percussion and piecemeal electronic melodies.
The production on this album is awash in layered stunningness. It may, in fact, take repeat listens to fully appreciate all that is going on. Thin One The Red One displays an ever-changing sound that remains rooted singularly in it's smooth track-to-track transitions. The variances and tempo changes occur mid-song in most cases, so the flow of the album is relatively seamless and often at times so unremarkable you'll not realize that a new track has started. There is nothing that is really radio-friendly here, though Move It, Child and On The Up and Up are strong enough vocally with a very Muse-like vibe to at least garner a shot in any AOR format. Whether it's commercially appealing or not, almost every song on this LP is melodically addictive despite its absence of hooks, deliberate pace or repetitive verse-chorus-verse structure.
It's not often that I review an album three years post-release, but Dead Sea Choir is a recent discovery. The fact that I am reviewing it now only attests to it's beauty. Previous reviews mimic similar adjectives: grandiose, epic, lofty, ambitious, abstract. There are the obligatory comparisons to Radiohead and Sigur Ros, but truth be told, the comparisons are legitimate. At times this album is superb. It meanders a bit and gets long winded at times, but Stasinopolous, who produced it, manages to tie it all together nicely.
That being said, you have to listen to Thin One The Red One with an open mind and receptive soul. It's forward thinking and artsy music, and though it's foundation rests on striking and heavy pop sensibilities, the music here is deeply layered and immensely complex, so you have to really get into it's depth to fully appreciate what the band has done. To listen simply on the surface doesn't do any justice to the album or to the listener. Plan on immersing yourself fully, and if you are willing to do just that, the result will be something epically and sonically stunning.
About Dead Sea Choir:
Dead Sea Choir is the music of unapologetically big ideas.
The project was formed by Costa Stasinopoulos and Daniel Gimlin, two budding musicians at the peak of adolescence - precocious, literate and ambitious. Not content with the simplicity of the modern Garage Band and frustrated by the complacency of some top-forty radio, they saw Dead Sea Choir as an opportunity to create the kind of unstoppable force that would utilize a pop frame of reference as the starting point for exceptionally grandiose music, both epic, and, idealistically speaking, timeless. This kind of unbridled zeal is often seen as the folly of youth, but over the last eight years, Stasinopoulos and Gimlin have proven that adolescent naiveté had little to do with their ever-present fervor. Rarely does a project aim so astronomically high so early in its conception …
Today, the Dead Sea Choir concept is alive and well. With Stasinopoulos on vocals and keys and Gimlin on guitar, drummer Patrick Ryan, bassist Geordan Taylor and guitarist Philip Phillips fill out a quintet of individual visions and talents that, when brought together, compose a powerhouse of both musicianship and big ideas that is assured in its vision and alarming in its complexity.
Over the last two years, the band has diligently pieced together its debut masterpiece, Thin One the Red One.
As recorded, produced and engineered by Stasinopoulos, the album carries the weight of a perfectionist’s execution— the product of an endlessly gifted obsessive who approaches his craft with an uncommonly astute balance of intelligence, tenacity and passion. After an extended gestation period, wherein the album was written, recorded and tweaked ad infinitum, the end result finally proves as audacious as it does deliberate.
Lyrically, Thin One the Red One approaches existence as a series of never-ending conflicts, creation versus destruction, beauty versus deformity, life versus death, harmony versus cacophony, God versus Lucifer… Man versus all of the above.
The effect can be overwhelming at times, and one can quickly tell that the music is meant to reflect the tough lyrical themes. Melody and dissonance conquer each other as songs are destroyed and rebuilt again and again. The result is something beautiful, even hypnotic, but also jarring and epileptic, albeit purposefully. It's hard to gauge what listener response will be in the months to come, but the word "divisive" comes to mind.
Whatever the opinions of Thin One the Red One are destined to be, a live show with Dead Sea Choir is a completely different animal, and should be seen as such. There's a sense of restraint in their performance that accentuates the epic nature of what they're attempting; the unorthodox and sometimes provoking elements of the album are all but completely absent. The result is an impressively streamlined set that maintains a palpable aggression while carefully navigating the waters between passionate showmanship and needless histrionics.
As they continue to push the boundaries of artistic prowess and commercial relativity, only two things are certain: the name Dead Sea Choir will soon be known, and those that know it will have an opinion.
A strong one at that.