Music Reviews

Faith & Disease

Beneath the Trees


For those of a melancholy turn of mind, Faith & Disease’s ethereal, otherworldly chamber music for the damned is an ideal soundtrack for the bleak midwinter season. Built around Dara Rosenwasser’s lovely voice, coupled with Eric Cooley’s guitar and bass, and perfectly complemented by female backing vocals, flute, cello, drums, keyboards, and synth textures, Beneath the Trees feels like a long, shadowed walk in a deserted patch of woods on a gray, bone-chilling day.

Most of the tunes are extremely subdued, sometimes so much so that they drag a bit, as on “If I Drink from This Cup.” But for the most part, the arrangements creatively blend the perfect mix of instruments and musical styles to create the precise mood the band is looking for on each track. Mysterious and haunting, the lyrics sound like cryptic pronouncements from a dark angel, and are often almost maddeningly opaque.

With its unsettling blend of drums and percussion anchoring dark soundscapes of synth, cello, flute, and guitar while haunting vocals expressing the endless cycle of life and death wash over you, “Mayim–Water Is Flowing” evokes a scene of half-glimpsed figures clad in diaphanous white robes swimming in and out of a gray river flowing through a forest of bare trees, as tendrils of mist drift and curl about your ankles, drawing you toward the roiling waters. “Eventually Again” holds you spellbound with its wordless vocals writhing behind throbbing, deep synth and heavily muffled bass guitars like a drawing within to the heartbeat of emptiness, redeemed a bit at the end by a tiny ray of sunlit hope. And their spare, scratchy, “78 rpm mix” delivery of the traditional murder ballad “Banks of the Ohio,” with some fine mandolin and organ work, is almost as chilling as the song’s lyrics about a man who murders his lover because she wouldn’t marry him.

Projekt, PO Box 9140, Long Island City, NY 11103,

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