So last year I had the pleasure of getting to know South Korea’s “apocalyptic folk” quartet Language of Shapes. They play a mix of folky, roots-y, and pop-inflected music that is as dark as it is deceptively breezy. LoS has a leader in Tristram Burden, a mandolin-wielding pied piper that allows fellow bandmates J.E. Seuk, Courtland Miles, and Robert Goldberg to make their mark musically just as deeply as he does. “Apocalyptic folk” is quite the stamp to put on your music, but listening to their debut you would say it does indeed fit. It’s not your mom and dad’s(or grandpa and grandma’s) folk music. It’s both earthy and organic…and yet futuristic and shimmering. It’s the tribal sounds of survivors. It’s ancient tomes sung around campfires burning over the ruins of yesteryear. It’s some heady stuff.
I recently got an email from Tristram letting me know the band was diligently recording tracks for their new album in the cozy confines of their living room. “We’ve been busy recording. Not quite nearly finished, some way to go. But we’re releasing one track into the inter-void and wanted to let you know and hear what you think of it. We’re still recording in our living room, but feel this is a better chapter, we have a better idea of what we’re doing.” In this writer’s humble opinion, I thought they were doing just fine last time around. Upon listening to the new track called “Stitches”, I’d say they have indeed learned a thing or two along the road to Babylon. The track is decidedly groovier than anything on their debut. The rhythm section of Miles and Goldberg take centerstage, allowing Burden and Seuk to loosen up the reigns and tell a story through the buzzing strings of their mandolins and Burden’s powerful baritone voice. Listening you get a sense of what Zeppelin’s “The Battle of Evermore” would sound like had it been written by Guy Garvey. This track is firmly grounded in the present, while still retaining that out-of-time, sci-fi-ish vibe LoS perfected last time around.
If “Stitches” is any indication as to where Language of Shapes is heading, look out for one hell of a sophomore album from these four. Check out the article from last year here.