With a significant reduction in personnel, Pomegranate Tiger returns as a (mostly) one-man project nearly three years after 2013’s Entities [review]. What four members were previously doing has been shouldered by multi-instrumentalist and project mastermind Martin Andres, having written and recorded the entirety of the new album, Boundless.
Entities succeeded by offering listeners a delectable cornucopia of riffs and leads, juxtapositioned in a fresh and engaging way. Boundless, in turn, is a continuation of the mindset, but approaches the idea with such acuity that it has somehow managed to not just succeed Entities, but exceed it by a significant margin.
Andres approaches us with Boundless in much the same way he did with Entities. Both albums are rife with eternally catchy riffs, heartbeat-raising rhythmic passages, alluring lead work—all in all, very similar in composition. However, there is something about Boundless that makes its existence more “organic.” Perhaps it’s the new, natural-sounding production style, with a less compressed, mechanical sound than encompassed Entities. Perhaps Andres’ endeavor to go it alone left his creative grasp unhampered by outside input. That isn’t to say that Entities wasn’t mostly Andres’ writing, but when working with other musicians, their personalities are bound to shine through with their contributions.
Regardless of its aetheric ‘je ne sais quoi,’ Boundless‘ attractive execution pleases listeners for 52 minutes straight. From the Daft Punk-influenced introduction in “Manifesto,” echoing the electronic duo’s work in TRON: Legacy‘s soundtrack, to the final fading string quartet lines of “Ovation,” Boundless manages what few instrumental albums can—it’s never dull at any point.
Tracks such as “Stomp the Haunted Crown” and “Billions and Billions” have such powerful grooves, you can’t help but bob your head and shoulders in time, closing your eyes to let them really sink in. In kind, the delicately-crafted leads in “With Knives as Teeth” and “The Color Theory” are marvelously written, giving you a subtle soaring feeling as they take you to a higher place. The anxiety-driven palm mute sections of the title track deeply contrast its relentless desire to inject melody.
There is just so much to love on Boundless, it’s hard to cherrypick any one or five things to discuss. The thumping slap bass work in “Cyclic” is just as bewitching as its repeated dueling guitar/keyboard chants. The almost jarring interlude in the nearly all-piano “Paper Hammers” contributes a breadth of breathing room before pulling you right back in with the exquisite lead melody from the aforementioned “Color Theory” and energizes you enough for the trek to the end.
There are nearly unlimited things to like about Boundless, but nary a thing to dislike as well. If it can even be called a “downside,” Boundless lacks something that elevated Entities in a significant manner—the three-part “Ocean” suite near the end of the album. There’s always something special about instrumental journeys. To digress, however, Boundless in and of itself is a sojourn, replete with thematic leitmotifs, allusions to itself playing in and out of songs, stories to tell in each and every one of its arrangements—a desirable, engrossing romp from beginning to end.
Boundless is a true realization of vision—enjoyable, engaging, and an endlessly entertaining.
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Pomegranate Tiger’s Boundless gets…