Hospital Ships

The Past Is Not a Flood

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    7
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Following Hospital Ships' most fully realized album yet, 2013's Destruction in Yr Soul, frontman/founder Jordan Geiger moved to Austin, Texas (sans the group's other members) and began working on new material with friends including Swans percussionist Thor Harris. The resulting album, The Past Is Not a Flood, is markedly different from the blown-out, Flaming Lips-style production of his earlier works, embracing atmospheric keyboards, layered samples from Geiger's previous recordings, and gently hypnotic rhythms inspired by minimalist composer Steve Reich and early instrumental records by Arthur Russell such as Tower of Meaning. The primary characteristics remaining from Geiger's earlier work are his mousey Daniel Johnston/Danielson-esque voice and the fragile, confessional nature of his songwriting. He crafted the album partially as a way to cope with anxiety, depression, and loss -- closing song "Nothing to Hide" is dedicated to the late songwriter Jason Molina -- so naturally there's a grieving tone, but it's not quite as tense or cathartic as it could've turned out. It feels more relaxed than overtly brooding or angst-ridden. The tracks here are somewhat sparse but filled with subtle details, such as buried, whispering voices, chiming percussion, and lightly smeared synthesizer textures. The shimmering, creeping "Oh My Light" makes impressive usage of Reich's phasing techniques. The majority of the songs trudge along at an unhurried tempo, but on the album's easy standout "All in Time," Geiger plugs into a midtempo groove with a nice, fuzzy synth bassline, conga drums, and a haunting vocal melody ending up with a chant of "We're all going to die." Even though the album was born from dark times and deep personal issues, it manages to carry an optimistic tone, and is ultimately relatable.

Track Listing

Title/Composer Performer Time
1
07:38
2
04:54
3
05:41
4
06:34
5
05:13
6
07:02
blue highlight denotes track pick