I’ve always been fascinated with music that feels removed, purposefully or not, form the time period in which it is being created. Some records feel dated in a disparaging sense, but the new album from Water Borders sounds like a beautifully scripted scene from a medieval play performed in the modern era.
Listen to “What Wiwant” – DOWNLOAD MP3
Listen to “What Wiwant (Ital Remix)” – DOWNLOAD MP3
On the San Francisco band’s new album, Harbored Mantras, Water Borders reveal the ability to blends various genres while remaining engrained in a specific sound, which is ultimately the downfall of the record too. From the outset of “Tread on Them,” the wind chimes and twisted vocals combine for a surreal but earthy sounding introduction to the album. In some ways “Tread on Them” is indicative of what’s to come, and in other ways it is Harbored Mantras‘ high point. Lead singer Amitai Heller’s vocals are brooding and arcane, and lend themselves perfectly to the dark and sometimes torture-inducing sound. But the vocals are another instance of an immediately appealing aspect that runs its course all too quickly. For as much as the mixing tries to rearrange and distort Heller’s voice, there’s the same breath of angst and drone on each track. On the closing song, “Antechamber,” Water Borders nearly recapture the intrigue of the first few tracks, but even then, it seems lacking in comparison to the excitement of the first listen. “Antechamber” sounds like what a haunted dungeon would most likely sound like, in a sort of demented and twisted way. Harbored Mantras sounds like a century old stone basement, for better or worse, and for that at least, I applaud them.
But ultimately, Harbored Mantras suffer from a lack of creativity when scaling their sound to a full album. There are brief moments on each track which absolutely dazzle, but unfortunately, much of the album sounds exactly the same, and in the most exhausting sense possible. Heller’s vocals, which are intriguing and unique, begin to lose their appeal halfway through the album, which is only intensified through the fact that the tribal and industrial style drums sound identical on each track. The album certainly shows a lot of promise for the young band, and I am interested to hear more from Water Borders. Harbored Mantras, however, feels stale after too much exposure.