“I think when we first started,” adds Cook, “there was a lot more of a hardcore, heavy-metal vibe in the band because we were listening to a lot of heavy stuff and we were trying to figure out what we wanted to be as a band. When people hear the new album, they’ll see that that heavy part has dissipated a little bit. There’s no more double-bass-drum breakdowns or anything heavy like that. It’s more like Isis or Thrice kind of heavy. We concentrated a lot more on chord progressions this time around and tried to draw emotions from the music and chords. It’s not like the same basic chord progressions that every band uses.”
No, there’s nothing basic about The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi. The disc opens with what could be pizzicato strings framed against an ambient backdrop. A mechanical drumbeat then sets the pace for “Swallow People Whole,” a song that might have been built around two guitars only to have them stripped away in production. In their place are naked, interwoven vocals, expressing yearning and sadness in lyrics like “I fell in love with an empty place/But I won’t change.” Keyboards echo around voices in harmony and call-and-response, creating a dark, moody atmosphere that’s heavy without being metal. When the guitars are revealed, they’re woven so deeply into the atmosphere that you hardly notice them at first. There’s a lot of emotion in the delivery of the repeated refrain “We lose ourselves,” but this isn’t cookie-cutter emo. And that’s just the first of a dozen songs.
“We were setting out to do something different from the very beginning,” says Brown of the early days of TREOS. “We wanted to incorporate things that we didn’t think other bands were using at the time — like electronics and multiple singers and multiple guitars. But I think it was also, for the first record, one of our downfalls. There were times when we were just trying to do too much stuff.”
If it’s possible to do “too much stuff” tastefully, then TREOS have succeeded. The Earth Sings Mi Fa Mi has all the elements that went into the band’s debut, but everything — the electronics, the twin-guitar attack, the interlacing keyboard swells, the layers upon layers of vocals — is deployed judiciously. Although the band prefer not to talk about it, their single-minded approach, which doesn’t put any one voice, guitar, or persona out front, can be traced back to May of last year, when Casey Crescenzo left to form his own band, the Dear Hunter. That event appears to have cemented TREOS’s united front, as well as their prog-rock ambitions.
“It was mostly just a personal thing between us and him,” Brown says of Crescenzo’s departure. “And you know, we both went our separate ways and it’s better now. We’re just hoping that people will hear the new record and stop asking questions about it.”
THE RECEIVING END OF SIRENS | Newbury Comics, 31 Sack Boulevard, Leominster | August 7 at 7 pm