'Passerine Finale' Review: Arcade Fire's Jeremy Gara delivers ambient record that'll take you on magical ride
The drummer might be most known for his work with indie-rock band, but his solo work deserves just as much recognition for its ability to cut through mental chatter and go straight to heart of matter
Jeremy Gara returns with his second solo project, 'Passerine Finale', a record that sees the drummer branch out from his indie-rock sound to take on something far more foreboding. Gara has made his mark on the music industry as the drummer for indie-rock band Arcade Fire since 2004. Outside of this stint, Gara has also played with slowcore band Kepler, math-rock band Weights and Measures, and Canadian indie-rock bands Clark and Snailhouse, and has collaborated with many artistes, including singer-songwriter Howe Gelb.
In 2016, Gara released his first solo project, 'Limn', which featured improvisational tracks accompanied by artwork created by the artiste himself. The album was noted for its electronic sound that blended well with the Montreal scene at the time. More specifically, critics pointed to the album's propensity to deal in abstracts; the term 'Limn' means to "depict or describe in painting or words", and it appeared Gara was doing just that, but with sound instead. 'Limn' was designed to evoke emotion and the sonic version of abstract expressionism, and with no clearly defined direction to the sound and no lyrics whatsoever, it proved to be a record that could cut through mental chatter and get straight to the heart of things. And with 'Passerine Finale', Gara takes the same concept and goes one step further.
Speaking about the ambient record's title track, Gara shared in an interview with Brooklyn Vegan, "This unseen sparrow kept following me around the day I fell into working on this one - it kept singing the same three notes of a chord over everything that was happening so it eventually haunted the song." This ties in neatly, of course, with the album's title, seeing as a "passerine" is a tiny bird, one that is known to sing beautifully. And the sentiment of a song being haunted is one that can seemingly apply to any of the tracks on this album.
The first two songs, 'in, final note' and 'L_06', are dark and foreboding. It leads you into the album feeling a sense of doom as if you're about to turn the corner and see the world burning to the ground. But 'Kelpie' and 'ice towers' then deliver something quite the opposite, the sound washing over you and invoking a sense of wonder. And that's more or less what you can expect from this release. It crafts a journey through sound that gently moves you through various emotions, working as a stream of consciousness in some ways, but designed not to lead you to any thought in particular. All it does it paint a path for you. Where it ends is entirely up to you. Closing tracks 'Passerine Finale' and 'wraith' are absolute standouts, with the latter delivering a sound that beautifully ties the entire album together.
'Passerine Finale' is a magical, meditative ride, one that you need to go on yourself to truly experience what it has to offer. It's an album that needs to be listened to in full, each track evoking a different emotion and allowing each listener to go on a journey unique to them. And much like with 'Limn', 'Passerine Finale' requires multiple listens to truly absorb all it has to offer.
'Passerine Finale' is out now on digital streaming platforms.