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Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Appleseed Cast -- Mare Vitalis


Emotion can be a difficult thing to convey. It should be timeless and universal, but it so often comes across as cheesy, or worse, fake. Creating rock music that sounds original and inventive can be difficult, as well. Beside the simple fact that almost everything has already been done, just arbitrarily doing something to sound different doesn't necessarily make something good--in fact, sometimes sounding "different" is just a euphemism for sounding bad. Mare Vitalis does something impossible: It is true, honest emotion, it sounds unlike anything that came before, and it is really, really good. The cover image of a heart beating in the ocean could not be more apt. Eleven years later, it has lost none of it's impact.
Every element that made Mare Vitalis so original then, sounds original now. The signature drum sound that just came out of nowhere has never been duplicated by anyone else. Those cymbals still sound like tapped seashells and crashing waves. The snare drum still sounds like a living thing skipping across the surface. The guitar interplay still sounds as complex and moving, the bass still as fluid. The vocals are just as passionate, and the incredible sense of longing in all the music packs just as heavy a wallop.

Of course, if you are writing an album about something as heavy as the ocean, you should probably end things cathartically. "Storms" is still one of, if not the most powerful album closers in recent history. It is the kind of song that is such a force of nature, no lyrics have ever been printed for it--I still don't even know exactly what Christopher Crisci is saying. Though the vocals on the first nine tracks are sung, Crisci does something else on "Storms"--erupts. It's as if Crisci is raging at the elements around him, and in the end, when the wind has died down and the waves calmed, finds himself clean.

To give this song even more attitude, a quiet sample of a radio call-in program plays underneath. A guest caller, some type of scientist, guesses that the world will never make it past 1999, when this album was recorded.
The date The Appleseed Cast released Mare Vitalis? March 14, 2000. After more than a decade of post-Y2K survival, the Earth still revolves around the sun, and the Applessed Cast are still filling it with beautiful, beautiful music.
If the word "still" in conjunction with this album has no resonance with you, you owe it to yourself to listen. It is not difficult to find, and it is easily worth it.

2000 Deep Elm Records
1. The Immortal Soul of Mundo Cani 2:09
2. Fishing the Sky 3:58
3. Forever Longing the Golden Sunsets 4:41
4. Mare Mortis 3:28
5. Santa Maria 3:35
6. Secret 4:44
7. ...And Nothing Less 4:50
8. Poseidon 4:09
9. Kilgore Trout 2:52
10. Storms 7:36
11. [Untitled Hidden Track] 12:15


buck09 said...

Just listened to this album this morning and really liked it. The closer 'Storms' is brilliant!

Then I went right into their two songs off the split: Appleseed Cast/Planes Mistaken for Stars/Race Car Riot (1999); Tale of the Aftermath and Remedios the Beautiful. Those songs are awesome as well. Especially Tale of the Aftermath.

Nicholas said...

Glad you liked it, Buck! "Storms" is one of those few songs that I can listen to a million times and it never loses its resonance. I always like it just as much the last time as I did the first time. Appleseed Cast is such a great band.