Velvet Spirit is a fantastic debut album from Florida’s Cathedral Bells. Songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Matt Messore has crafted a dimension of hazy and wondrous melodies, where dreams run free along a platform glimmering synths and twinkling shoe gaze. Every song has a thick finish of reverb and delay, the vocals are moody and effervescent. Various textures, hues and rhythms coalesce, forming an ocean that ebbs and flows to the deepest recesses of human emotion.
Although Messore borrows heavily from contemporaries such as My Bloody Valentine and Joy Division. The consistent aesthetic is what gives Velvet Spirit its own charm. The confines of the genre that he works around with does not limit the album at all, instead he uses it as a playground to invent and explore. At first listen, it may seem like each track doesn’t have much variation from the next. But there are very subtle adjustments from start to end that you can see a clear difference from the first to the last track.
“Ephemeral” as the title suggests, is hard to grasp, embellished with a bit of jangle and sauntering in with glowing radiance and a sizzling bass line. “In Absentia” feels like a dream that you may have had in the 80’s after a trip to a neon-tinted record store. “Reflection” takes on a moody vibe, with laid-back airy vocals that strongly contrasts the urgency of the blistering percussion, creating a tense atmosphere.
“Lucid” takes a bit of a breather at the midpoint. Everything is stripped down in this instrumental, and it feels like the flowing of the tide across the islands, signaling a shift in pace for the rest of the album.
In “Time Capsule” the textures are more solid and defined, slightly veering away from the airiness and gliding towards new wave/synth pop Ala The Cure. “A Passing Phase” takes in a more post-punk spirit, with a throbbing drum and bass rhythm that the other elements are constantly catching up to. “Ethereal Shadow” is a bright and shimmering light show that ends the kaleidoscopic journey.
Velvet Spirit is an impressive debut. Messore recorded the entire project at home, but it doesn’t sound like a stripped-down or exploratory production at all. Each song is full to the brim, and crafted with such care and precision that you would expect from a seasoned musician. Reality hasn’t really been us doing a lot of favors lately, and if you want to dip into a daydream for a lovely escape, this is the perfect album.