Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
“Death Affirming” is all that’s written in the About section of Typhoon’s Facebook Page. Indeed. Kyle Morten’s lyrics are heavy and anticipatory of impending mortality. Lines like, “Every star is a possible death,” are not exactly optimistic. But while Morten’s words focus on the inevitable, his melodies inspire listeners to embrace life, however fleeting.
White Lighter, the Portland-based band’s third album, takes listeners on a journey from the timpani of the opening “Prelude” to the sighing violins of the closing “Post Script.” Morten’s songwriting is bolstered by a small orchestra of no less than ten talented individuals – a team, he says, he couldn’t have completed the album without. It’s this troop’s sound that keeps you from tearing up when hearing these lyrics:
“And we were old we were old
we were shedding our skins like some cold blooded animal
all looking for love in the mirror but you know
that you’re on your own
you keep yourself
you live alone”
The full band sound could easily be part of a rising trend if it weren’t for the complicated rhythms and complete originality of each individual track. In fact, I found myself comparing Typhoon to a different musical predecessor with each new song: Andrew Bird, Sufjan Stevens, even Bright Eyes. On top of that, each tune is full of unexpected turns, oscillating between full sound and single voice, driving rhythm and pregnant pauses.
It may be Morten’s own traumatic history with illness, he had a kidney transplant at a young age after contracting Lyme disease, that formed is hyper-realistic philosophy. But perhaps that’s also the source of his music’s celebratory sound. Like life, White Lighter is emotionally all-encompassing and all too short.
Read Sean Maloney’s review