Robin Guthrie: Everlasting EP (Darla Records, 2006)

by Brent

Robin Guthrie EverlastingIt seems quite cheeky to name a brief, 4-song EP release Everlasting, but if there’s one artist who’s earned the right to do just that, it’s Robin Guthrie. After years of inspiring and innovative guitar and production work with the legendary Cocteau Twins, as well as numerous other collaborations and projects, Guthrie has firmly established himself as one of the true pioneering and incomparable music artists of our time, in the process inspiring countless other musicians and influencing the whole industry with his unique sounds. So, the, one could forgive Guthrie’s presumptive title for his latest release, a companion EP to his recent full-length of ambient/atmospheric guitar work Continental, especially given the continued excellence of music displayed on the EP. Featuring four songs of sheer beauty, Everlasting only confirms Guthrie’s status as one of the great ones.

Everlasting begins with the lush “Bordertown”, a song which opens with light percussion, softly layered guitar lines, and gently floating keyboards. The song gradually builds by adding more elements: slightly more aggressive drums, a slight increase in dynamics in the guitar-playing, and, finally, the addition of more guitar lines that bring depth to the music. The song ebbs and flows naturally, from a gentle meandering to soaring guitar lines. Throughout “Bordertown”, Guthrie creates a beautiful world of expansive sounds that a listener could get lost in. Following this track is the haunting “A Sigh Across the Ocean”. Opening with a disparate and feeble sound, which gives way to gentle intertwining and dissonant guitar tones, “A Sigh Across the Ocean” is an emotional feast for the ears. Guitar lines snake and slither their way over the listener, while other odd sounds and loops anchor the song’s mysterious mood. While the song could content itself to remain a static exercise in beautiful and sullen guitar tones, Guthrie instead deftly guided his fingers to a stunning melody that expands gracefully as the song nears its conclusion. “Fountain” follows with its cascading keyboards and liquid guitars, setting the mood as the most conventional and even-keeled song on the EP. That’s not to say that the track isn’t beautiful, though, as pristine guitars flow over a solid rhythm section. Finally, the title track of “Everlasting” appears, and in seconds its simple but organic melody earns the label Guthrie gives to the song. “Everlasting” features an achingly beautiful melody, played in the midst of Guthrie’s softly chiming guitars. However, as Guthrie has showed on some of the tracks on Continental, Guthrie is not content to simply convey a mood, but rather his songs take flight and whisk the listener to faraway places in their mind, and “Everlasting” is no exception. After gradually building through the addition of subtle elements throughout the song, “Everasting” erupts with distorted guitars (still sounding ethereal thanks to Guthrie’s intelligent playing and treatments) and wordless female vocals. With these elements wooing the listener to decisively, one cannot help but wish that the song would indeed last forever, and just at the moment that the listener is fully wow over, the song quickly fades and ends.

Given Guthrie’s reputation, there shouldn’t be a hesitation for music lovers to explore the new music of this fascinating artist, but if there was any doubt, a slight moment of guarded measuredness from on who hasn’t yet explored Guthrie’s extensive back-catalog, Everlasting proves to be a delightful introduction into what makes Guthrie so special: his fantastic guitar tones, his otherworldly melodies, and his overall ability to overtake his listeners with his swirling music. For long time fans of Guthrie, though, Everlasting provides yet another four tracks of continued beauty hat will keep fans salivating over his work, well over two decades since he first emerged on the scene.

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