Grails – Interpretations EP

Grails
Interpretations EP

When you drive through a city in the hours just before sunrise, it’s like discovering a new life. People are busy everywhere, taking care of business under the night sky as the city sleeps. Lights flash under the moonlight as street sweepers hustle down the roads, and the piercing sound of broken glass fills the air when hundreds of bottles are hurled into a recycling truck. Time seemed to stand completely still as I drove through streets of people completely unaware of my presence. I was lucky enough to have Interpretations blaring through my speakers with this little-known side of the city as a perfect backdrop. It was not music, it was an experience.

The Portland, Oregon-based quintet delivers an intensity that is not well suited to background music. It is characterized by emotions and experiences that are far too engaging to fade away behind group conversation. With each listen, you notice a new detail, whether it is the slight tingle of a violin in the background or an almost non-existent drum rumbling like thunder sneaking up in the distance. The layers peal away slowly, unveiling a depth that so many instrumentalists strive for.

The recording of the Interpretations album occurred during one of Grails’ European tours and is part of the Latitudes Series, which are limited-edition albums of unique songs by some of Southern Records’ favorite bands. This series strives to capture the spontaneous recordings of such bands done in the matter of a couple days as they pass through London while on tour that can then be delivered in small quantities throughout the world. The exquisite hand-packaged album doesn’t disappoint.

The journey begins with the slow-building bassline of Grails’ interpretation of the Flower Travellin’ Band’s “Satori”. Timothy Horner’s violin weaves its shivery melody in and out of the huge voices of the guitars and crashing drums, heightening to completely consume the listener. Goose bumps will appear with each thump as The Byrds’ “Space Odyssey” makes its way out of the dark to reveal a tale filled with hope that lies just over the horizon. The final song, Gong’s “Master Builder,” gives drummer Emil Amos a chance to shine amidst the distortion and eerie violin. Like a lover slipping away at sunrise, Grails disappears far too quickly, leaving you eager for more.

Few bands can tell such hypnotic stories without using a single word and also make all the little hairs on our arm stand up no matter how much you crank the heat in your car.