The Upshot: A group of individuals that bleeds sound and emotions, making music that forms its own unique genre.
BY DANIEL MATTI
I first met members of The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die (World is… or TWIABP as sometimes abbreviated) when they released their debut album Whenever, If Ever and they were on tour supporting the record. They came to a local club and played to about 15 people. About 10 people sitting and watching the performance while the other 5 threw each other in to the next person. I nervously thanked them after the show and bought everything they had merch wise and then went home to soak in the new found obsession.
Fast forward to about a year later, the band returned to the same club to play a sold out venue opening for the band Into It Over It. A very much drastic change from when the last time they played the club. The crowd was very much into them. Derrick Dvorak belted out at the crowd “Where the fuck were you all when we played here last time?” Understanding him, I responded “I was!” Then we began to just have a small chat about the earlier show—in front of a sold out crowd. (If remembered correctly we were both heavily intoxicated.) Again like last time I scooped up whatever merch they had that was new and that I didn’t have and made my way home.
Forwarding on, I met Derrick and his wife (Katie Dvorak) recently at Raleigh’s Hopscotch Festival. We were both following the band What Cheer? Brigade as they played the streets of Raleigh as if they were in the streets of New Orleans. Asking them why they were here, Derrick replied with “I’m here to see The White Octave.” We immediately made the connection of the one band during the entire festival that both of us most wanted to see, he driving down from Connecticut where TWIABP is based and myself only driving 10 minutes to see a band that hasn’t played a show in 10+ years. As we hung out for most of the day chatting about the band and his record label Broken World Media—I also work in a record store—we became friends. So consider all the foregoing as just a preface to my review and how my review won’t really matter because I’m a fanboy but you could still, hopefully, take it as an enjoyable read…
Harmlessness is an album that transcends into something more than just your average record. Bringing multiple instrumentation that causes your speakers to fill with such pleasantry. Derrick and an acoustic bring the beginning of the record to an image of somebody playing into an 8 track player. Gang vocals and strings fill the air with such a rolling momentum that you expect the song will continue to get larger and larger. It does. Thus gripped, it brings you to a dropout where just guitar and vocals give way to a space-filled intro somewhat reminiscent to the group’s earlier Between Bodies EP.
“January 10th 2014” tells the tale of Diana, The Hunter of Bus Drivers, a woman vigilante who shot and killed two men after a string of sexual assaults on women in the area of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico. “Are you Diana, the Hunter?” “Are you afraid of me now?” “Well, yeah. Shouldn’t I be?” are traded off with lead singer David Bello and keyboardist Katie Dvorak. Such lyrics are both powerful and tie the song’s meanings together.
From there, Harmlessness continues on with subtle hints to works that the band has done in the past. Easter eggs, really. Lyrics such as “When we get home, we won’t be empty” and “I keep holding onto, I keep begging myself.” I won’t tell you what songs these lyrics are in. You figure it out.
The album continues with punishing drums from Steven Buttery, linking together songs “Wendover” and “We Need More Skulls,” and with patterns that feel like they should be used on a free jazz album. Closing the record are two very powerful tracks “I Can Be Afraid Of Anything” and “Mount Hum” totaling almost 16 minutes of music to end the record perfectly, touching on subjects of being stressed and not being able to experience pleasure.
While the band has been labeled as “emo-revival” there is actually nothing about them suggesting they have revived emo. (I hate even mentioning those words together. Sorry, reader.) If anything, they are reviving the notion of what a solid fucking album should sound like. TWIABP is a band that forms its own genre, blending different areas of music together. Lyrics that are definitely life events merge with music that is beautifully crafted. (Incidentally, Chris Teti did engineering, mixing, and producing of the record. Chris is co-owns Silver Bullet Studios which has also done work for Hostage Calm Misery Signals, Make Do And Mend and many other bands. Chris is somebody who you should definitely watch out for his work to come. )
Harmlessness will be one of the records on my list of albums of the year. Something so well crafted by a group of individuals that bleeds music and emotions makes me thinks/hopes this is just the beginning for The World Is A Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid To Die.
DOWNLOAD: “January 10th 2014,” “The World Lisa”