Album Review: Eartheater – Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin

By Kiah Easton, Editorial Director
[PAN; 2020]
Rating: 7/10

Key tracks: “Airborne Ashes”, “Below The Clavicle”, “How To Fight”

Eartheater is a master of creating immersive sonic atmospheres that effortlessly wrap around her bodies of work. Her last project, Trinity, threw the listener overboard into an expansive ocean of wet, dark, crashing compositions. Phoenix: Flames Are Dew Upon My Skin retreats into the depths of a massive underground cave, bathing in the soft orange light of flames. 

With closed eyes, press play; kicking off the album, “Airborne Ashes”, envelopes the listener in thick undertones and an ominous plucked-guitar melody. Vocals hide within the cracks and crevices of the sonic environment, dancing and slithering around listeners’ ears. Slowly walk through this space created by Eartheater’s sounds: cavernous, encompassing, low-lit.

Read more: Album Review: Eartheater – Trinity

Introductory tracks, “Airborne Ashes” and “Metallic Taste of Patience”, lead listeners through the darkness, eventually arriving at “Below The Clavicle”. 

Harp plucks rise and scurry sporadically, eager to present to their leader; and as Eartheater slowly strums a guitar over a subtle orchestra of instrumentation, she sings: “Come back to me and take me riding / Let’s just get physical don’t wanna talk / There’s a lump at the base / Stuck in the middle of my clavicle / I’m a clever girl / To keep my mouth shut / The meaning hasn’t come up yet / It’s still under the surface / Below the clavicle / Below the clavicle”.

The album is emboldened by Eartheater’s talented production and instrumentation. Among Phoenix’s moaning guitar ballads lie transitional tracks that move the listener through the world Eartheater created in her work. 

“Burning Feather” is one example of such transitional tracks. Waves of massive reverb wash over listeners; broken only by the sounds of digitally-created grinding metal and scuttling unnatural creature-like sounds. 

“Kiss of the Phoenix” brings more even unsettling, unidentifiable sounds, like distorted screaming from unknown creatures. The sounds Eartheater creates on these tracks lie somewhere in between the sick moans of the Eraserhead baby and sound effects from a 2000s Transformers blockbuster

“How To Fight” is a close and intimate track, where Eartheater sits directly in front of listeners and reduces the endless sense of space from previous tracks. Simple guitar strumming and subtle vocal layers drift through the air and listeners’ ears. Helicopter-like fluttering rattles above one ear to the next while a scuttling creature-like sound dances beneath your feet: “I’ve tasted metals of my own blood / And learned to like it / I’ve gone under the knife of love / Dissected every vein and vessel”. Eartheater paints a graphic image of not only pain, but also the growth that love brings. 

Music offers people a method of escape—but Phoenix: Flames are Dew Upon My Skin goes one step further. Like much of Eartheater’s work, the album creates an environment with powerful sounds that detach listeners from their physical surroundings and transports them to another space; a cavernous space, with soft flames that dance across walls and shed glowing light on something beautiful that lives there. 

Eartheater delivers her artistry with a notable cohesion and accessibility, despite her experimental nature. Consistently epic, unique and deliberate, each experience leaves one wanting more of the world Eartheater is creating.

Listen here:

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