words: Luke Jankle
Tomb is as breathless and somber as anything else Angelo De Augustine has ever released in the past few years. However, this record has the advantage of showcasing lush production, which comes care of esteemed producer, Thomas Bartlett.
The record comes after an unexpected breakup that occurred in the form of a letter. Augustine received the relationship-ending letter on Dec. 20 of last year and started writing the album almost immediately after, finishing the process by Christmas. Soon after, he flew out to Reservoir Studios in NYC and with the help of Bartlett, the two crafted the album into a hybrid of acoustic and electronic soundscapes.
In listening, it’s obvious that Tomb was born out of a need for catharsis; a need to exorcise past demons.
“Throughout our lives we bury many dead things in our hearts and minds,” Augustine said in a release, regarding Tomb. “There they go to rest and hopefully are reborn as something beautiful for the world to behold.”
The subtle additions of synth, piano, and electronic percussion flesh out the tracks in ways that make them infinitely lived in, while not taking away the spotlight from the lyricism. Production is clean and sparse, letting Augustine’s vocals and plucky guitar shine as flourishes of guitar pop ring out.
The most telling imagery conjured up for Tomb lies in the lamp-lit acoustic sessions of “You Needed Love, I Needed You”, and “Time” which features label partner Sufjan Stevens. A scene of whiskey-soaked mid century wood grain decadence and a haze of incense gives way to Augustine’s voice as fragile as beams of light in the fog; Stevens sits dawdling at the piano, patiently guided by Augustine’s lead.
While tracks like "“I Could Be Wrong” and “Time” share an upbeat optimism, cuts like “Tide” and “A Good Man’s Light” are brooding and dark. Meanwhile, “Kaitlin” is a contemplative bargain adorned to song. Singing out the name of a past lover, there’s an obvious soft yearning in the track to relive something trivial like “a dream in Ojai,” but with a tenderness that’s not demanding.
The B-Side of Tomb, acts as a blended and condensed version of the album’s beginnings, with less emphasis on melody and more on content; with one exception, “Bird Has Flown”. This track outlines the a tumultuous family relationship that was experienced at a young age.
Tomb is undeniably reckoning with the past and grappling with forgiving those in your life that left you behind, but it’s also about forgiving your past self and letting go of those emotions that you’ve held on too.