When a band comes together, one of the first things they usually do is set out to put words to chords and fit monologues into melodies that will appeal to the masses. But what if a band chooses to forge on without the use of any words? What if a band decides to be solely instrumental and let the melodies speak for themselves? In this case, a band must craft said melodies in the hopes that they will evoke specific emotions. Not all stories have words, but they all rely on emotional connections with the listener. Asbury Park-based five-piece Chemtrail have hit that nail on the head with their latest EP, Sounds Like Ghosts.
The EP is a five song collection of songs that never made it onto any of Chemtrail’s full-length albums – hence the title. The tone for the EP is set with the opening track, “Like All Earthlings.” Slowly and gradually, the sound becomes greater and greater, rising from a quiet din and transitioning into sparse, harmonic plucks of strings. It is fitting music for an EP that has “Ghosts” in the title – it evokes melancholy and just a touch of spookiness. Batting in the two-hole, “Prove You’re Not a Robot” starts off soft and slow, but fills out the rest of its sound with each passing measure until finally it explodes into a powerfully cathartic outburst of “Paranoid Android”-like tremolo picking. Chemtrail succeeds at taking the listener on a winding emotional path in each song – when it is up to the listener to fill in the space where the lyrics should be with images and thoughts, the songs can take on deeply personal and profound meanings.
I have heard it argued that a song without lyrics is, in fact, not a song. I would have to strongly disagree with those who hold this sentiment, and I challenge people who feel like that to give this EP a listen. If you honestly can not feel a connection to the music, can not feel your mind soar as the next soundscape washes over your imagination, then perhaps instrumental music isn’t for you after all.
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