Caspian, a post-rock band from Beverly, Mass., had some things to say with their latest album, Dust and Disquiet, which was released in September 2015. Usually mostly an instrumental rock group that uses vocals for melody to blend with the instrumentals, Caspian’s latest departs from that tendency.
“We’ve had vocals here and there on our past records, but mostly used for melodic instrumentation,” said Philip Jamieson, who plays guitars, keyboards and synthesizers for the group. “But this time we lifted up the curtain a little and really exposed some really direct, in your face, discernible vocals. So that’s the number one thing that we always point to.
“I think we’re always going to love electric guitars, we’re always going to love crescendos and dramatics and those high peaks, but how we get to those and how we maneuver our songwriting to achieving those big dramatic moments is always kind of evolving.”15
Jamieson said that the group approached songwriting in a different way than they usually do, hoping to challenge themselves. In addition to giving the vocals more space on Dust and Disquiet, Jamieson said that the group also includes horns and synthesizers on the record.
“The way we approached songwriting for this album was definitely more ambitious for us and we wanted to challenge ourselves and sort of earn those big crescendos instead of having them be predictable and serve them up on a silver platter,” he said.
“That’s where a lot of the work came in and that’s where a lot of the experimentation in terms of the way we laid out these stories for people [came in].”
And Caspian’s fans didn’t balk at the risks the band took on Dust and Disquiet. Jamieson said the reception he’s received from fans while they’ve been on tour since the record dropped has been positive.
“It’s been really positive. We definitely took some more risks on this record and we made ourselves a little bit more vulnerable,” Jamieson said.
“I think because we’ve been doing this a while we’re more open to criticism and we expected, maybe subconsciously, to receive more criticism. But it’s been great. Our fans are really open-minded, so they kept rolling through the story with us. I guess it was a pleasant surprise that it was received the way it has been.”
One of the galvanizing events that led Caspian to express themselves the way they did on their latest album was the death of Chris Friedrich, the group’s founding bassist, in August 2013. In announcing Friedrich’s death on their Facebook page, Caspian said he “epitomized the heart and soul” of the group.
“I think that in a way that [his death] was galvanizing for us,” Jamieson said. “It put us through the wringer, through lots of different emotions…that we’re still sort of unpacking. I don’t think there’s a period at the end of the sentence, it’s going to be an exploration for us. We found ourselves wanting to press forward and wanting to keep making music and honor him, so now our music has that added purpose to it and it always will be built into it.”
• Caspian is scheduled to play a show at The Fillmore in Silver Spring on Wednesday, April 20. For more information about Caspian, visit caspianmusic.net.