Written by: Vattghern
I tend to lie to myself, pretending my procrastination isn’t as bad as it is. The moment when the truth hits me like a bus is usually when work has piled up to a giant tower of Jenga blocks, about to collapse in seconds. So, as the weeks of collapsing Jenga towers have passed and my studies have come to a temporary halt, I can shift my focus to procrastinating again. And a fruitful product of said procrastination is this heavily delayed review of Raphael Weinroth-Browne's debut Worlds Within.
Despite my love for the distorted and noisy sounds of metal in hectic and stressful times, music like Worlds Within is balm for my soul. It is the type of music that is rather easy on the ears, yet has an endless depth to it. But before we get into the meat and potatoes of the Canadian cellist’s solo debut, one thing should be noted: While this is Weinroth-Browne's first big venture as a solo artist, he’s far from an unknown face in the metal and rock scene. Either because of his insanely talented cello covers of modern prog classics (“Bleed” by Meshuggah or “Harvest” by Opeth, to name a few,) or through his influential work with bands like the neo-folk project Musk Ox and Norwegian prog masters Leprous, which included Weinroth-Browne as an integral part of their live and studio performances.
Given this precedent status, his first standalone work was bound to be a career defining moment: do his compositions translate well from his collaborative work into a whole album centered only around him and his cello? Even though I think his influence in Leprous is underappreciated, I was as skeptical as I was curious. But boy, let me tell ya. As soon as I got my hands on the promo, most the skepticism faded in mere seconds.
“Worlds Within” is the first time Weinroth-Browne fully embraces his voice as a more classical, conventional composer. But don’t be fooled by the word “conventional," as the result is far from boring or unexciting. Lifting the weight upon his own shoulders, every sound, every percussion rhythm and every background noise is made with just his cello and some effect pedals. Considering this “one-man army” approach, it’s even more impressive, that almost every sound on Worlds Within serves a purpose and is used with great care. Another benefit of having the cello as the sole source of sound, is the organic and natural atmosphere, that stems from it.
Weinroth-Browne knows exactly when to release or create tension, so that every big moment feels like a deserved payoff for an exciting yet simultaneously relaxing build-up. This is especially present on tracks like “From Within II,” which transitions the more mellow and post-rock atmosphere of the opening minutes into the percussion driven, almost electronic sound of “From Above.” As the album weaves its way through the listener's ear canal, each track blends in perfectly, creating a seamless flow of movements in constant motion. Tying back to the classical influence in his music, Weinroth-Browne composed the album with an overarching theme in mind, each track being a different movement of his composition. After some repeated listening, this approach makes the 40 minutes of runtime fly by unnoticed.
Every new listen of Worlds Within reveals another hidden beauty, showcasing Weinroth-Browne’s talent to craft memorable moments by cleverly combining the multitude of cello sounds into a coherent piece of music. The name of the game called Worlds Within is release and tension, constantly evoking relaxation and excitement. Through intricate details and meticulously crafted soundscapes, Weinroth-Browne effortlessly imitates the complexity of a full band and doesn’t shy away from moments that are reminiscent of the intensity of a metal breakdown. While mixed feelings settled in after the first two listens, each consecutive play-through afterwards gripped me with more emotion than the last. I advise you to stick with Worlds Within and give it the time it deserves. Because sooner, rather than later, the buds will burst into beautiful, magnificent flowers.
RAPHAEL WEINROTH-BROWNE - Worlds Within was released Jan. 24th, 2020
Providing thoughtful reviews of music that is heavy, gloomy, and loud enough to wake us from slumber. Written by a groggy-eyed, highfalutin peasantry.