November 10, 2015
“Music is our strongest antidote to feelings of emptiness and disquiet.” So says Phil Jamieson, one of the founding members of Caspian, and truth be told, it’s hard to disagree with the man.
After all, although Caspian only formed back in 2003, the Massachusetts-bred post-rock collective have already carved out a unique niche for themselves as masters of multi-layered catharsis, their songs ranging from aggressive hard rockers to thickly melodic acoustic laments to experimental electronic pieces, and somehow, just somehow, they always manage to keep it together. In fact, in his 2010 review of the re-release of Caspian’s first two notable forays into the world, PopMatters’ own Zach Corsa summed the band up thusly: “To put it in so many words, if you had to point to one lasting document, one Exhibit A to testify for the validity and emotional power of the entire instrumental post-rock genre, then you’d be hard-pressed to pick a more winning example than Caspian’s brilliant The Four Trees.”
What’s perhaps most frustrating about the group’s aesthetic is how although they are consistently improving themselves and refining their sound on each successive album, the group has remained free of controversies or overt outrageousness. Their most frequently compared-to brothers, Explosions in the Sky, went straight for the emotion time and time again, which lead to movie soundtracks and a much wider audience, leaving Caspian to do things the old fashioned way: record, tour, and just build up your fanbase one person at a time.
As such, the lush, heavily melodic Dust and Disquiet, so aptly named for the band’s fourth album, is finally out. To help celebrate the occasion, we asked Jamieson to pick out five records that were most important to him and what they meant to his musical development. His selections are all fascinating, but the connective tissues is that each one of these albums rely on big, colorful melodic gestures, some (clearly) more cheerful than others, but all of these discs sum up the driving sounds of Caspian remarkably well. Let the countdown begin.
1. Stars of the Lid The Tired Sounds Of
2. Led Zeppelin IV
3. Sun Kil Moon Ghosts of the Great Highway
4. William Basinski The Disintegration Loops
5. Radiohead Kid A