Recently, I was contacted by a band that I had seen around the Internet, but had never really looked into them. I admit that I remembered them because of their vivid cover on their new album, but I never actually listened to anything. Well, Celluloid Winter is getting ready to release their hypnotic debut album “Everything Exists”. It does not have a release date quite yet, but, in my opinion, we need to show them as much support as possible to get a release date set. “Everything Exists” is a fantastic debut in every sense.
Celluloid Winter hails from California. They call themselves “meloprogistic” rock, meaning that they are art rock with progressive intentions. While I understand that label, I think I can break their music down a little more, and the combination honestly is right up my alley. I would describe them as a fusion of alternative rock, heavy prog, and maybe a little post rock influence. If I were to put that into band influences, I’d point to the dreamy atmosphere of Katatonia, the steely edge of Porcupine Tree, and the raw distortion of 00’s alternative rock. You might even catch some Anathema in there, too. Now, I’m not saying they are influenced by those bands. I actually have no idea who has influenced them. But those are the familiar sounds I hear in their music.
The band consists of two primary members, Nate Hammer and John Garcia. They handle and share all the instruments and vocals; excepting only drums, played by their friend, Candice Harris of Zookeepers Palace. These guys (and gal) are extremely talented, and they lay down distorted guitar riffs, shoegaze-like guitar licks, elongated key tones, pastel piano passages, and more. Drummer Candice is basically the next Gavin Harrison, as she plays in and around the music on a copper drum kit, creating amazing fills and addictive tempos. Her expertise is especially apparent on “In the Wind”, which ends with a fantastic instrumental that consists of mournful guitar tones set against her very active drumming. It’s honestly very sublime. All in all, the musicianship is at a very high level, and especially so considering the mix of styles and the atmosphere they achieve.
The album is full of great moments. “Aya” has an incredible, guitar-driven instrumental that gets your blood pumping. “Blue Dream” is an atmospheric instrumental that reminds me of post rock in some ways. It begins with the classic turntable scratches set against a warm tone that slowly builds until it explodes into a fantastic set of guitar licks. Other tracks, like the breathy “Time”, are instrumental, too, and serve as gorgeous, effervescent bridges between foundational songs. “Pulse” is a mixture, beginning with warm pulses that transition into a little explosive instrumental. Other tracks, such as “Selection” or “Feigning Insanity, Pt. II”, are more alternative in sound, albeit with progressive twists. The former sounds a lot like the 00’s alternative music I still love, whereas the latter starts off as a heavily distorted affair, but transitions into a delicate acoustic instrumental that is a pure pleasure.
The album has a great flow from beginning to end, full of transitions and heavier moments. This flow is so fluid and just so well composed that your mind immediately orients itself to the direction the album is going. The guitar tone here is heavily distorted fairly often, but the riff structure often reminds me of metal, though the tone is firmly alternative or heavy progressive. The vocals, too, are firmly grounded in the alternative world, as they communicate raw emotion and even haunting, atmospheric intentions. Nate is the primary vocalist here, and his voice has a very nostalgic quality for me. “Everything Exists”, then, is a wonderful combination of my favorite genres, from alternative to progressive. I see this type of “alt prog” rising lately, such as in bands like Earthside and Jolly, and I love every minute of it.
My favorite song here is too difficult to choose. “Aya” is an immediate favorite, but I think the abstraction of “In the Wind” and the excellent transition of “Feigning Insanity” will end up being my favorites. Honestly, every track here serves a purpose and every track is amazing in its own way. I think that’s one thing I like so much about this new “alt prog”: These bands don’t mess around with unnecessary flourishes and filler. Celluloid Winter makes concise, sublime music that delves deeply into music and into meaning. The album is clearly dreamlike, and it evokes dreamy images and abstract ideas. It’s rather metaphysical, and I love that. I mean, does it get any more abstract than a blue jay landing on a television?
Ethereal, artsy, heavy when it needs to be, and thick with atmosphere; “Everything Exists” is a stunning debut from Celluloid Winter, a band I’m excited to see live up to their potential. They have so much personality, but the fact that they can paint images in my head with their dreamlike music is the real winner here. Let’s get a release date for this album!