Hymn Binding has a musty scent that rises up from its ink-stained pages (or inky bars of music) once opened, but it has an inner strength, and an inner resolve, in spite of its age-old music. Solemn strings openly roam through its shadowy tracks, searching for something lost – they have known heartache and the desperate tug of despair – but the ill-light only deepens their disappointment as the unfulfilled strings return home with empty hands. Aged piano melodies perform a melodic ballet beside the strings, and occasionally a clearer electric guitar will cut through the low, overcast clouds.
From The Mouth of the Sun’s third album – and their first for the excellent American label, Lost Tribe Sound – has a gloomy, mournful air to it, but its music weakly stands up to the slow freefall of gradual decline. Systems are failing. Everything looks to be crumbling, fencing the music in, but its rust still darkly gleams. The piano is dusty and creaking, but wise, and the strings seek them out.
Tight electronics succumb to pulsing waves of static, and as such, this isn’t a generic modern-classical record. Aaron Martin and Dag Rosenqvist thankfully push the boundaries of the genre until it is in effect genre-less, fusing an electro-acoustic sound with an array of softer electronics and lean experimental textures which are then melded together in colours of dull bronze and Martian copper. It strays close to post rock with crunching crescendos and guitar-apparitions, as well as a later sequence of nitro-fuelled drumming, but the strings always bring it back home; the result is not a confusing mishmash but a well-developed album played in the key of a mournful goodbye, an unrequited feeling, a deep longing.
The different elements are like vital organs, working tirelessly and relentlessly within the music’s very body, an inseparable form clustered together in a display of resolute, inner strength when all else appears to be falling by the wayside.
Hymn Binding predicates the inflation and the ultimate collapse of all things. This is mirrored in the music’s unrushed, quiet spells, where its lengthy pausing foreshadows and only increases the power and intensity of the next tsunami-born crescendo. ‘Grace’ brightens the music with rays of optimistic light, but it doesn’t stay around for long. The warmth in the piece doesn’t necessarily lift up and deal with the deep-set melancholia, but it does stop the dam from breaking, drying a lonesome tear that had been running down the cheek.