Album Review – Moving Mountains – Pneuma



Moving Mountains – Pneuma

Pneuma Cover

Pneúma – properly, spirit (Spirit), wind, or breath.

After reviewing the track Sol Solis (my favorite song from this album), I decided to take a small break and come back swinging with a full album review.  This is only my second album review, my first being for my favorite album of all time… What better way to resume my deepest thoughts (and subsequent ramblings) about music I consider to be GREAT than to review THIS album, which as mentioned in my previous song review I consider to be near the very top of quality in post-rock artist releases…both for it’s musicianship and lyrics, but mostly because it’s so damn emotional and I find that it substitutes what is so often overly-wrought music-masturbation in post-rock, for a much more direct and raw intensity, one that is still impressive in it’s style, but unfettered by sheer complexity.  It’s gives much weight to the album and to every song individually.

This is no doubt a concept album, in that the entire work from it’s start to finish (the last song ends with the same sounds that kick off the album, forming a near perfect loop) tells a story, or a series of like stories, vaguely and metaphorically using the ‘sun’, the ‘earth’, ‘trees’, etc…images that invoke a sense of nature and in a profound way, a sense of enduring.  A relationship, a life, a hope….all of these things are invoked and cloaked under these metaphors and the albums consistent usage of these images really make it a powerful experience to anyone who really takes the time to listen, listen loudly and perhaps study the lyrics while listening, because as the music and singing style lends itself, much of it can be hard to pick up by just listening to it, and even though you will feel the emotion and the passion in the singers voice and cries, it becomes much more powerful if you make explicit what is being said by following along… The lyrics are both beautiful for their simplicity and sincerity as they are for their deep introspection…these are poetic words not nailed down as a specific concrete meaning for others to spoon feed them-self if agreed with and discarded if not, but rather they are powerfully and personally PRIVATE, meant to thought about and felt by each listener and interpreted by YOU, the listener.  If you liken the sun to being the most important things in your life and yourself as being the ‘earth’, what would you do (and what DO you do) to preserve that precious light, and how would you feel when it finally sets?  What if it, by some unforeseen circumstance it doesn’t rise again?

Despite the sorrow and desperation that hangs over much of this album, it really concludes on a powerfully positive note, a sort of reconciliation between the ‘sun’ and the ‘earth’, and if not a complete victory, then at least a warm and honest acceptance of the state of things, and the future joys we experience…CAN experience, after much suffering.  It ends beautiful in much the same way it starts instrumentally too, ending with the most private, expressive (concerning emotion) and exclusive instrument of all of them; the human voice.

Listen: (click on the song titles)

1. Aphelion

“There are two instrumentals on this album, and this isn’t one of them, although it comes very close to being a third, with only 3 lines in it, making it the shortest song lyrically.  Starting with the sound of a couple breaths before any words are sung, it then explodes into probably some of the most intense screaming on the album, This song quickly and effectively sets the tone of the album musically (not as much vocally, as the screaming becomes less and less intense and pronounced as the album progresses as if to say “I accept this is happening, I accept that I am powerless to avoid what’s happening, I will relax now…not always, but more often now…”, at least that’s how I see it….This album starts with an intensity of feelings too raw and primal to be expressed in any other way besides such vocal passion and it’s to be understood soon…”

LYRICS:

And that’s the fire in the sun
And that’s the fire in the sky

We’re so far away from home (x2)

————

2. Cover the roots, lower the stems

“The meaning of this song was explained on another site by the singer himself as:

(One of my closest friends had passed away. And being young and not really experienced like that, that was one of the more crippling things that had ever happened to me. So I sort of took a break from pretty much everything that was going on in my life, including recording Pneuma. And Nick really had to motivate me to get myself to finish it. And then when I came back to finish the record, Cover was born out of that.)

For anyone who has ever lost such a close friend, this song can really hit home…I love the line “how your soul lives in my own” and how the ending of it is so bright and promising toward the now gone friend, despite how sad the song is.  Powerful in it’s moments of screaming (as if against the hand of fate) and it’s moments of silence and relative calm before the song really explodes from the 1:34 mark and the 2:20 mark….LOVE IT.

LYRICS:

You know it’s really hard to do
To think of anyone but you
And how your soul lives in my own

Because the trees are growing roots
That will hold your heart
Inside your chest where you lay

Fear, fear no more, my son
Because someday the trees will sing
And I know that someday will come
Where the trees are growing roots
Among the place we used to sit and breathe the air

Someday
And someday the trees will sing
Oh, my god
My heart is with you now
And your body is growing roots
That will hold your feelings down
And I will sing a song for you
Where a thousand pandas dance
Under the warmth and ocean blue

————

3. Alastika

“Love the ping-pong panning of the guitars starting at the 0.34 mark…more importantly I love how the song captures the futility of an immature love, or perhaps simply a relationship that is doomed in general…there is a moment in the middle of the song of reckless rebellion when the voice arises for the first time clear and understandable…an unwillingness to let go of each other despite all odds, but as the singer finally acknowledge at the end, you can’t fight  nature’s course…”But did you think you’d grow beyond me? the clouds exclaimed”.  How true that is and yet the final line is still “Just run away”! how we must get dragged so hard into the mud, and soaked in the rains to notice we are wet and chilled with a cold or scraped and dirty…. How bitterly true how often we learn the most important things through hindsight, and after so much regret.”

LYRICS:

You are something, something to hold onto
A fault in the crust where I fell through
You live and you learn, but you still love
Nothing will change what I’m made of (x2)

We’ll run away
Just run away
Just run away and find a way
We’ll run away

“But did you think you’d grow beyond me?”
The clouds exclaimed
Just run away
————

4. Fourth

“This is the first of two instrumentals on this album, appropriately enough named ‘Fourth’ being the 4th album on the track, both of the instrumentals are very small, and this is my favorite of the two…it’s quite beautiful, with an elegant piano, a heart-beat drum beat, and soft guitar sweeps likened to strings….a nice mellow track to set the mood calm and serene for the next magnum opus of a track.”

LYRICS:

(Instrumental)

————

5. 8105

“Continuing the cloud theme from the previous track, this song is the longest on the album, right at the mid-way point and it features female vocals (which makes sense because of the “running away” a sort of separation in the last track, and as she sings an alternate verse, these lyrics will feature much the same words/phrases that will be used in the following tracks too…for me the song expresses at the same time the sheer closeness of being with someone you love, that feeling of being inseparable and at the same time, a realization of sharp distinction, she is “in the sky”, he is “in the earth”, how can these two things be as one?  the answer? They cannot….hence the remaining lyrics on the album…at least that’s the case until the end….”

LYRICS:

And we will fall back into the ocean

The mountain tops are hard to see
They tell how far you really are from me
The clouds are thick
But they can’t hide you
They can’t hide you from me

Some things are…
Some things are here to kill me
Can you feel it now?
We’re burning up
Amongst your flames
Amongst your love, our life

You’re like the sun (I am in the earth)
And I am earth
Together we’re one (It’s where you’ll find me)
But someday your fire will die
And I’ll grow cold without sunlight

And I will freeze, baby (You, you’re in the sky)
I will die (It’s where you’ll find me)
I’d freeze
I’d die for you

One thing I know you didn’t know was how to
Fall head first hand in hand into the ocean blue
We count down, take a breath, and jump
We’re falling
You scream: “Baby, we’re simply growing!”
I think, baby, I wouldn’t mind to die like this

I may not say everything that’s on my mind
I am in the earth
It’s where you’ll find me
You’re in the sky
From you

Don’t fret, baby, we’re simply growing
And my darling, I wouldn’t mind to die like this
Don’t fret, baby, we’re simply growing
Don’t fret, babe, the sun is coming

————

6. Bottom Feeder

“This is the second of two instrumentals on this album, the name of it invoking the ocean, both of the instrumentals are very small, and this one is the most serene and sleepy of them, capturing the depth and calm stillness of water and it leads nicely into the next track.  Note how both him and her were diving “into the Ocean Blue”, well this seems to be the result…. If I had to chose my least favorite track on the album, it would be this one, but only because the rest of them are so great, and this one, as calm and relaxing as it, just can’t compare.”

LYRICS:

(Instrumental)

————

7. Sol Solis

“Clicking the link above will take you to my full review of this song where you can play the song as well…I can’t say much more here except that it’s my favorite track on this album, a humble acoustic number amongst giants of powerful sweeping electric guitar and bombastic drums, of which all are missing here, and yet it’s as powerful and sincerely created as any good music gets, and it really strikes a cord with me….it’s the moment in the “story” when everything really is falling apart, and even so, a small hope is expressed, in my favorite moment in the entire album, the line “I hope someday your love finds it’s way home.” right before the mournful horns start, again so many of the lyrics repeat from the lines started in ‘8105’ typing in closely with the way the cycles of the earth and sun repeat….and will continue to do so as the album progresses…”

LYRICS:

Take your hands away from your face
So I can see everything you are
And everything you used to be
You used to be to me
Something you don’t want to be, I know

You, you’re like the sun
And I am earth
Together we’re one
But someday your fire will die
And I’ll grow cold without sunlight

And I will freeze, baby
I will die
I’d freeze
I’d die for you

Things, they always die
Just give it time
They always die
But we, someday we’ll see
Our love will shine
Our love will shine

Your love won’t fade, darling
Lover, I cannot do this alone
Things like these are better off untold
Someday the sun will die and I’ll grow cold
I hope someday your love finds its way home

‘Cause you are the sun
And I am the earth
You are the sun and I…

————

8. Growing on, Growing up, Growing out

“Continuing the growing theme from all the non-instrumental tracks 2, 3, 5 and 7, this song is one of my favorites on the album and after so much build up for this song and this album in general, This song explodes with the first shining moment of joy, and it’s expressed in the line “And I can see that the sun is truly in love with me”, gives me such a warm and positive vibe, in contrast to the overall melancholy of the album.  I love this song.

LYRICS:

Oh, God
What the fuck is going on with me and everyone?
It’s you and me
Someday we’ll see the end

[hard to understand part]
(Someday we’ll see…do you feel it, the fire?)

Because you’re in the sky
And I’m in the earth
Because you’re in the sky
And I’m in the earth

But this time it’s different
I swear to god
The sun’s exploding within my arms
And it’s getting warmer
And I can see that the sun
Is truly in love with me
 
Because you and I were blown away
By love and hope for better days
You and I were blown away

————

9. The Earth and the Sun

“Almost a total repeat of SOL SOLIS lyrically, this song takes the entire theme of the earth and sun and elevates it to a near spiritual level…if Sol Solis represented the body/heart, the physical self crying out for “the sun”, then this song is no doubt the spirit/soul crying out for the same…it really captures the title and the essence of this album, this is truly the moment of pneuma and the moment this album earns the word as title…it’s a haunting, and gorgeous, moving to the heart and spirit like dreams or powerful memories would be IF they could somehow be converted into the realm of music itself.  One of my favorites.

LYRICS:

Take your hands away from your face
So I can see everything you are
And everything you’ve been to me
Something you don’t wanna be
Something you don’t wanna be

You, you’re like the sun
And I am earth
Together we’re one
But someday your fire will die
And I’ll grow cold without sunlight
And I will die, baby
And I will freeze

————

10. Ode We Will Bury Ourselves

“I love how this song takes the themes of all previous songs; growing, trees, sun, earth, sky and evolves them into a beautiful message, a song of hope and sincere desire toward “God” to simply let this love BE, to allow it to grow and be a relationship of real fruition. (“And fertilize the earth we walk”) there are no more clouds here to block the light, just the sun and the earth, and the singing trees at the very end…. and it’s so rewarding after this long and painful journey.” 

“I love how it ends in human voices, and then when the album starts over again, it’s human voices that begin it again…in breaths. The breaths of life. Pneuma.”

LYRICS:

God, you took a lot from me
I don’t ask for much
Just a sense of security
And all I ever wanted
Was a minute of your time

Someday the trees will sing
A song of hope to bring
A lovely winter morning
Where you and I are growing
Into an apple tree
Where the sun will kiss our face
And we will grow

Just fall away
Just let it go
For you, I’d run away
Because you are something to
Something to hold on to
A fault in the crust I fell through
You live, you learn, you love
Nothing will change what I’m made of

I’m in the earth
It’s where you will find me

Just fall away
Just let it go
For you, I’d run away
I’d run away

And hopefully God will find
A reason for our love to bleed
And fertilize the earth we walk
From fragile seeds

God, you took a lot from me
I don’t ask for much
Just a sense of security
And all I ever wanted
Was a minute of your time

Just fall away
I’d run away
I’d run away

Someday the, the trees will sing, Hallelujah!
And we’ll bury our souls in the ground, Hallelujah!
And I’m in the earth, and you’re in the sky, Hallelujah!
And nothing will change what you are, Hallelujah!
And someday the, the trees will sing

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