Shadow Falls by The Paper SeaRelease date: May 21, 2021
Label: Paper Sounds
Patience is an art that is often overlooked. In a day and age of immediacy and consumption, the concept of patience is nearly lost and incredibly fragile. We churn out entertainment and media at an alarming rate, needing to be stimulated constantly. We abandon long-term achievements for gratification. We spend more than we ever have and consume to the point of stress. Few projects are able to stand long-term shelving, idleness, and/or a period of stasis. Set against this backdrop of impatience, The Paper Sea’s debut album, Shadow Falls, is a journey more than a decade in the making.
The Paper Sea is the instrumental music project of Jared Matt Greenberg. Known for his work as Whale Fall’s keyboardist and cornetist, Greenberg has taken all production and composition into his own hands. Featuring tracks composed between 2008 and the present and recorded over the course of 8 months at his home studio in LA, Shadow Falls shows the elegant and frail side of ambition, honesty, and beauty.
While the album’s foundational instrument is clearly piano, the selection of sounds and pieces always keeps the perspective of emotion at the forefront. With a nod to Thom Yorke’s style, the tracks weave together synths, string sounds, brass, and percussion along with piano, always patient and always sincere. The album is a hypnotic headphone album that changes vibes appropriately without sacrificing attention.
The beauty of this record is the equivocality that it holds. The interpretation of Shadow Falls is dependent on the listener’s mental state, focus, and overall mood. It’s a foundation for what The Paper Sea connotes: the delicate intertwined with the raw and powerful. A feeling of loss and rebirth. A feeling of departure and optimism.
The title track is a perfect example of this. Does the cornet sing with a sense of somberness or hope? Does the piano feel heavy and haunting or is it a platform of optimism? Depending on your mood, you might feel all of the above. Whatever your state, this track will hit you.
‘Centésimo Saudade’ melts you with its patient approach; notes of Rhodes piano and cello flutter with tension before a string section provides the listener with relief. The track leaves with a beautiful improv-like piece, anchored by piano. ‘The Sleepers In(n)’ holds a perfect, dreamy pedal steel over a pulsing bass line before transcending into a summary of synths. ‘Fern Dell Fireworks,’ with caixixi and shaker played by Greenberg’s wife, Leticia Meza, feels like an Iron and Wine or Calexico tune circa 2005.
Amassing attention from many Spotify and Apple Music playlists, this album is perfect with a contemplative cup of coffee, during a long drive, or when simply needing to breathe easier. It’s a reminder that composure and poise are still alive, and that patience is triumphant over immediacy.
*Shadow Falls is available for download, streaming, and on CD via the artist on Bandcamp, and a screen-printed double vinyl LP will be available this fall.