The quest for the ultimate orchestral indie band is neverending, and even in this descriptive category Typhoon is wholly remarkable. Their most recent album, White Lighter, rocks the listener into an instrumental bliss, but this peace is always shaky. Packed with suffuse, almost dark energy, the album listens, and perhaps most important, feelslike a melancholy anthem for the twenty-and-thirty-somethings of the world. Lyrics frequently express pain both physical and psychological. The specter of death, in this case as ephemeral as haunting, existential numbness, could be a focal point of discussion itself. This cliche angst is reinvigorated with unique sound springing forth from a very real fear of death and, perhaps even more frightening, isolation. But moments of musical apprehension are the true harbinger of strength. It is between this diametrically opposed love of life and appreciation of death where Typhoon’s greatest personal tribulations take place.
The outset of the album is “Artificial Light”, a veritable assault on the senses, fusing celestial images to the human capacity for belief, a trope often seen in early civilization. The white lighter spoken of is replete with superstitious imagery worthy of the title of the album itself, a plea to cherish our brief existence. The song is a wonderful introduction to the band itself; already lead singer Kyle Morton is supported by a stellar cast of contributing artists, featuring a variety of horn, string, and percussion instruments steadied by effective, generally pronounced (leaving an unquenchable desire for more in the listener) vocal harmony throughout the work.
The otherworldly sparring match between good and evil again takes turns for the celestial in “Possible Deaths”, a song which perhaps best encompasses the album as a whole, although the entire work is an extremely gratifying, pensive listen. In this instance stars exploding are metaphors for the end of a human life, and Morton imbues almost-physical pain with his words, “it burned out five hundred million years before ever I saw it.” Again, life is fleeting, a gift few get to appreciate. Though lyrically simplistic, the crashing orchestra retains an air of almost regal authority throughout the song, and more importantly, the entire work’s production.
No track attests to the ensemble being of greater caliber than its constituent parts as “Hunger and Thirst”, which marries a phenomenal variety of instruments with a harmonious plea to soldier on through the darkness. At times enlightening reverberations cascade upon the ears, folding in upon one another like wave after wave of coursing, effervescent energy. Morton and the harmonious interlude that follows, particularly in the second and third verses, darkly express a dissatisfaction with the choices they made, and the fact life brings us to making choices at all, before embarking on a quest of reconciliation with their ideas, their music, and the world.
White Lighter is a formidable entry in the world of indie, brimming with sound, color and vivacity, a raft of melancholy amid a sea of all-too human depression. Like Typhoon and Morton’s plea, beauty is to be learned, understood, experienced, not read about. A must listen for those inclined to the genre, and many who are not.
Dreams of Cannibalism
Hunger and Thirst