…I hope it’s enough, TYPHOON – Empire Builder
by Walter Price
Over the course of Portland-based Typhoon’s past albums, it has become evident that songwriter Kyle Morton is determined to make you feel something when you hear his lyrics unfold from your speakers. And the outfit’s latest LP, ‘Sympathetic Magic’, is no exception. And I think that we can all find hope in this pandemic-era masterclass recording. There certainly is magic in how a creative and his beautiful collaborators took the emotional roller coaster of thoughts and vibes of the past 18 months and shaped a compassionate album.
As album reviews often get in the way, maybe it’s best to share this love letter Morton posted on Bandcamp about the album’s roots…
My Dear Friend,
I hope you’re holding up. What a mess!
Small news in the big scheme, but we finished a record and I wanted to share it with you. I wrote all these songs while puttering around the house these past several months, because, what else was I going to do? The songs are about people – the space between them and the ordinary, miraculous things that happen there, as we come into contact, imitate each other, leave our marks, lose touch. Being self and other somehow amounting to the same thing.
Recording had to be adapted to the plague times. I tracked the demos first and sent them out to the band. Then the improvised procession of friends dropping by my basement, one at a time, masks on. Other folks recorded their parts in their own homes with cell phone voice memos or GarageBand in the laundry room. Parts from the original demos remain intact. Like everything right now, it was all a little disjointed, but I think it came together in the end.
The record is called Sympathetic Magic and it’s a great joy to share it with you. To be honest, it’s a joy to share anything at all in these isolating times.
kyle / typhoon
And to get you acquainted with this stunning 12-track set, check out “Empire Builder”. As the storyteller sings, “The apocalypse is incoming/ Only moving slow and unevenly/ The empire builder returning east/ Like the rising blade of the guillotine/ North Dakota metastasizing/ The oil shales and the entropy/ And the waves of darkness fold over me/ As the dying sun goes down…”, the listener may not immediately get a sense of the warm and fuzzies. But we will all agree that the picturesque uneasiness is fitting for reflection on the turmoils our collective souls have had to endure of late.
But just maybe it’ll be the amazing hand-drawn animation done by the brilliant Casey Jarman that will capture your imagination. Hundreds of hours of labor have culminated in a film that sees a wary traveler passing the time, contemplating, examining the passing landscapes, and coping as the destination draws ever closer. It may appear to be a simple work of art, but it isn’t. Its a vision of interrupted innocents.
The ‘Sympathetic Magic’ LP is available now at your friendly neighborhood record shop.
TYPHOON – Empire Builder
Band photo by Jeremy Hernandez
All songs written by Kyle Morton
Performed by Typhoon
Mixed by Jeff Stuart Saltzman
Mastered by Adam Gonsalves
Kyle Morton / Toby Tanabe / Dave Hall / Pieter Hilton / Alex Fitch / Tyler Ferrin / Devin Gallagher / Shannon Steele
Animation by Casey Jarman
The dining car in my assigned seat
My neighbor’s conversation is turning ugly
A labyrinth of conspiracies
Proving he is good and he’s got enemies.
Tiny points of light I see haphazardly
Scattered in the void like so much bird feed
And I hope it’s enough…