Shane Whitbread: Tomorrow Fades Away (Thisquietarmy, 2005)
Shane Whitbread is the second act on the fledgling label Thisquietarmy, which is also the name of Eric Quach’s solo project (of Destroyalldreamers). This EP, Tomorrow Fades Away, is a blissful tour de force that evokes wide soundscapes, the vastness of space, and the warmth of inspiration. In the midst of all these sounds and compositions, Whitbread proves to be a patient, subtle, and a talented composer. Unfortunately, the disc is short and really leaves the listener yearning for a full-length of his compositions. That said, on to the individual tracks.
“Lost in Static (Failed Transmission)” begins this ethereal disc with a beautiful synth lost in the winds of what sounds like a winter evening. This evokes beautiful pictures of snow-covered fields as far as the eye can see with the horizon bringing together the gray and white of the snow and sky. Breathtaking in its simplicity, Whitbread is patient in his composition, throwing in bits of other textures along the way. The song is brief and perfect in its compactness. “View from the Observation Deck” begins with spacey sounds, evoking the vastness of space. A slight rumble travels through the speakers as this science fiction soundscape unfolds. By this time in the disc, one realizes that Whitbread is a master of subtle textures and sounds, moving the listener both emotionally and aurally through his tracks.
Bringing the listener back to earth, “Terrian” begins with a soft, violin sound and plucking guitars. The violin sound is a drone set at a low level and creates a bed of sound both soft and beautiful. Perhaps, this is a reference to our fragility and, at the same time, potential. Having been to space already, Whitbread reminds his listener that places like that are hostile, yet beautiful to humans. A fuzzy guitar comes in to create some dissonance, although the tone is still light and hopeful. The volume cascades then dies down as the track progresses and then spacey sounds once again enter the mix. Fuzzy, spacey guitars play gleefully on a bed of drone that acts as a soft cushion. About eight minutes into the track, warm fuzz escalates and creates a wall over drones and synths, warbling underneath. “Tomorrow Fades Away” is light and wonderfully full of hope. Shimmering guitars sit on top of a subtle, minimalistic beat. An electronic voice echoes amidst the various layers of drones and beats. Another thing that Whitbread does well is vary his tracks on the same theme. This devolves into a chaotic sound-fest and comes out the other end with large guitars. This disc is a symphony of bliss that brings the listener on a musical journey light, airy, and deep.
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