[sic] Magazine

Pillars And Tongues – The Pass And Crossings

Much has been written about music that moves people, be it on an emotional, physical and/or sometimes spiritual level. There’s a little less to be found for music that stills them, stops them where they stand, keeping them in place from first to last note, but it’s still frequent enough for the use of words like stunned, entranced or mesmerised to be commonly-used descriptors for music that affects the listener on a slightly different level. This is all very well and good, except when both of these descriptions happen to only vaguely capture the music in hand, such as that crafted by the Pillars And Tongues trio.

Over 6 tracks, The Pass And Crossings formulates, constructs and exhibits some of the most unique (yet not unfamiliar) music being recorded today. In the most simplistic terms, you can file this album under genres like folk, drone and even blues; what’s unique about it is that the music doesn’t sound played, but rather it sounds induced.

First track ‘A Dance In The Billowing Absence’, is a slow, sombre droning piece for the first half of its near-10 minute duration. It builds to what can be simultaneously described as an ode, a testament, and even a celebration with carefully metered restraint. That sense of slow-burning revelation, to the point of sensual indulgence, continues throughout the album’s relatively brief 35 minutes, ending on the cathedral-esque ‘Decadent Crossing’ – all of which makes it very easy to see how the word ‘holy’ has been used to describe the music of Pillars And Tongues on more than one occasion.

Some of would have to do with the burgeoning sound of the harmonium as a core instrument, as well as the main vocals by Mark Trecka , whose almost chant-like technique evokes a sense of sacredness both within the music and toward the subject matter. Backing vocals by remaining band members Elizabeth Remis and Evan Hydzik both support and heighten that effect with an overall unity with one another and their instruments (which are commonly the aforementioned harmonium, violin, upright bass and various percussive instruments). If ever you needed a quintessential example of voice as an instrument, look no further than any one of the songs in P&T’s catalogue.

In using the word holy to describe music, it’s important to ensure there is no mistake made about the context in which I use it, so if you’ll indulge me for a moment … I once said to a friend of mine, “I need one word that means love, want, have, need, give, take and desire; do you know what it is?”

After a moment’s thought, he replied with that word, “holy”. It took me a while, and it was only after I removed any and all religious implications generally inherent with the word’s most common usage to understand he was right – and that is what Pillars And Tongues sing about on this album; and that is what I mean by being moved and kept still at the same time.

We move fast, our attentions often divided by multiple tasks at any given moment, and when we are drawn in to one single thing it can be suddenly solitary – which can be an almost alien experience, as though we’ve been momentarily transported out of our normal, mile-a-minute life, particularly when we’re able to carry our entire world in a device that fits in the palm of our hands. Rather than similarly compacting the human experience into the smallest convenience, with The Pass And Crossings , Pillars And Tongues expand moments of it, indulge in and honour it.

I won’t say it’s a flawless masterpiece, because it’s not, but the human experience never is, even when we are at our most holy.

~The Pass And Crossings is released June 28th 2011 on Endless Nest .~

Pillars And Tongues @ myspace