When I first discovered the “two drum smashing, synth tickling, trumpet licking hooligans” that are Grand Rapids’ FILMLOOM, they came through as a feature in a Noisetrade email. I gave their EP L i m i t one listen, and I left it alone, not coming back to it until last month when I was significantly more impressed. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had crowdfunded a debut album set for release in April. I really got into their EP, and last week I had some good things to say about one of the singles, “Non-Violence.” So the question remains: How does FILMLOOM’s debut album, Perennial, stack up against the EP and singles?
I am pleased to report that Perennial is an outstanding experience. The album is built around the concept of the cyclic nature of human life, the highs and the lows. The lyrics of some songs delve into deeper topics such as lead singer Eric Tempelaere’s perspectives on war (“Non-Violence”), human behavior (“Body Language”), and sex trafficking (“Persona”). Others speak in more broad terms, such as in “Sur(reality),” “Fog Magic,” and “Appaloosa.” Sometimes the vocals are needlessly obfuscated, but Eric’s gorgeous tenor remains a highlight nonetheless.
Musically, the textures are both more and less cinematic than FILMLOOM’s previous release. They are less cinematic in the way that fewer natural, classical instruments are used in the mix – unlike L i m i t’s regular employment of hammer dulcimer and various woodwinds. They are more cinematic in the sense that the music swells, falls, flows, and ebbs with electronic pulses and trumpet blasts and drum crashes and piano flourishes in a mythical journey across countryside as vibrant as the music on display here. Some tracks take a little while to gain momentum, and the whole album plays out slowly. But the lush soundscape and intriguing lyrics are reason enough to look over the 5:06 average song length.
Compared to L i m i t, the boys at FILMLOOM really have matured in their lyrics and sounds. This experience feels complete, and the scope is impressive, though at times the album nearly fails to get off the ground. Overall, however, Perennial lifts off and soars into the soul of its listener. The album is like a banquet: perhaps overfilling, but ultimately worthwhile and satisfying.
FILMLOOM may currently be on hiatus, but certainly check them out and lend them your support at the links below.