Sunday, 1 April 2018

EP: Pine the Pilcrow - Only Ghosts

Pine the Pilcrow - Only Ghosts
Photo: Stephen White - (The Last Mixed Tape)

Info: It's just over 2 years since Dublin's Pine the Pilcrow sent the first plume of orchestral beauty out into the air with their debut EP, it settled very well, and the reaction possibly exceeded their expectations. On Friday they shared sophomore EP Only Ghosts, their early tentative forays back in 2016 now become grand strides. 

Opening with the first single from the collection, 'Dahlia' immediately sees Pine the Pilcrow pushing a confident and gripping expression of their music right to the forefront before of our noses. Upon release I had noted; "They once again manage to hold our focus with sparse and pointed moments, such as the repetitious piano progression, and then whisk us up into a whirlpool of keys, strings and harmonies to borderline ecstatic climaxes, and gently, back down again." Those climaxes and their execution are a key to how the band delicately yet definitively toy with the listener's emotions. 

'Your Eyes' brought back memories to me of how Glen Hansard's vocal was held in the centre of tracks like 'What Happens When The Heart Just Stops' or 'Santa Maria' on For the Birds when The Frames were moving from the frenetic pace of Fitzcarraldo and Dance the Devil... It's like a glowing ember in reverse, instead of the amber warmth of the light fading, it goes from a tiny dot to full brightness.

The band's latest single 'Only Ghosts' is devastating, its darkness still managing to be filled with a terrifying beauty, its sadness a necessity in order to feel human again. It is here that Pine the Pilcrow establish themselves, in my opinion, as the most accomplished modern folk act in the country. Their musicianship, delivery of feeling, and quality of song-writing is at the top level. From the first ghostly warble from singer Hannah Ryan, to the sheer delicateness of the piano and cello, where it feels like the bow is hesitant and almost afraid to bother the strings, you are sucked down the whirlpool willingly. Every band with a longevity has that moment, a first piece of magic that seems to have come from beyond their collective creativity and turned into something sentient and independent in itself, 'Only Ghosts' is Pine the Pilcrow's moment.

After the sweeping and gorgeously cinematic instrumental of 'Mirrors and Lights', we conclude with 'Red Empire'. The first half of the track is bare, piano, vocals and soft mystical brush strokes in the distance. This build is unsurprisingly very effective, as those brush strokes become bolder and broader all of the elements converge, like the dawn lapping of the tide coming in before it crashes on the shore. 

In an era where we have become desensitised and little shocks us anymore, and where our heads are so clogged with the onslaught of information, both relevant and pointless, collections of music like Pine the Pilcrow's Only Ghosts are a gift, the antidote to apathy, the resuscitation of an almost dead heart through unbridled beauty. It sounds dramatic because it is.

Pine the Pilcrow are currently on tour, catch them live at the below venues:




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