Jesse Eubanks: Soundscapes and Serenades (Independent, 2003)

by Brent

Jesse Eubanks Soundscapes and SerenadesFor the uninitiated, Jesse Eubanks is an independent musician and songwriter based in Philly, USA. And he is also somewherecold’s much-deserved Artist of the Year for 2002, earning that accolade with two fine, diverse albums and extensive touring. Completed just in time for his early 2003 tour with Jeremy Quillo, Eubanks offers the homemade 5 song drone ep, Soundscapes and Serenades for the masses to devour.

Anyone familiar with the highly creative Meditation, Contemplation, and Prayer release from early 2002 knows that Eubanks is well-versed in the art of drone. That album, though, utilized sparse drones and other instruments to create an atmosphere of worship, reverence, and well, meditation, contemplation and prayer. Soundscapes and Serenades, with its more experimental sound, doesn’t attempt such lofty aspirations, and as such, it conveys a different mood than Eubank‘s previous drone release. As the title of the ep suggests, this release is crafted to provide the listener with an enjoyable, and even accessible, listening experience. While the drones on MC & P were long, drawn-out, and allowed to develop over time, the songs on this ep are relatively short (the whole ep clocks in at just over 20 minutes). The shorter nature of the songs makes for an excellent introduction into the genre of ambient, droning, atmospheric music.

But, even within the confines of drone, Soundscapes and Serenades shows a remarkable diversity. Each song sounds different. Track 1 “Of Allegations and the Sea” sounds like a very flattering homage to Monk, who Eubanks lists as an influence and inspiration. A single guitar plays a repetitive, but comforting line over a bed of backwards guitar effects and sounds. Tracks 2 “The Hem” and 6 “Sleep Well”, sound similar to a quieter Flying Saucer Attack, with their thick layers of guitar effects and sparse percussion cradling Jesse‘s soft voice. “Sleep Well”, no doubt the serenade that the title of the ep refers to, works especially well, with its sounds and beautiful melody. Track 4 “Bass Ackwards” contains numerous layers of backwards guitars, crashing into each other, but they all come together nicely to form a song. However, the most interesting song of the ep may just well be Track 5 “Jesus Saved My Soul”. The longest track on the ep, it starts out with a wavering drone, which is then shortly accompanied by a simple handclap rhythm. Out of nowhere, the soulful voice of a singer listed in the credits simply as R.J. Shariff comes in, singing a bold gospel tune. The sound of Shariff‘s voice alone is worth the money to buy this ep. The combination of drones with spirituals, though used by Charity Empressa and Cush, still sounds fresh and unique with Eubanks‘ excellent instrumentation and Shariff‘s authentic voice. One hopes that the rumored collaboration between Shariff and Eubanks, dubbed “The Audio Fashion”, will be coming soon. One thing’s for sure, anyway….Soundscapes and Serenades finds Jesse Eubanks in fine form, expanding his craft, and creating excellent music. Look out for this guy!

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