Phantoms vs Fire – ‘Swim’ reviewed

❉ Thiago C. Desant creates a world for the listeners to immerse themselves into, writes Eoghan Lyng.

“In my head, ‘Swim’ tells the story of a couple who are tired of their daily routines and decide to leave their boring life behind. As they travel across the country in search for a new and more exciting life, they end up watching the return of the ancient beings that inspired the creation of all religions – the old gods – in a neon-lit pool of an old motel room”.

Such is the backdrop for Phantoms vs Fire’s expansive and esoteric record, a modern concept album, seismic, cathartic and energetic – and that’s just the opening track. Breathing, an eye-opener, is as comfortable to listen to as watching Thom Yorke drowning in the No Surprises video. Striking strings stake through the opener, before a comfortable piano loop brings listeners to safer musical territories.

This territory is further followed by Swim, as hypnotic drum beats and sensitive keyboard pushes place the listener in the vicinity of a lake shore swim. This is the perfect five o clock remedy for an insomniac student or writer, the outside world their enemy.

Tints of the Orient enter into The Beach House (if any song strikes of a hit, this is it!), as  Koyaanisqatsian strings change from peaceable playing to admonishable aggrievances in the matter of seconds. Little wonder the more tepic Nightmares and Dreams, with Gorillaz loops, pales in comparison when directly following up.

The album recovers quickly with Cinematik, as cinematic in scope as it is in title. Bass-driven, staccato led, this enters into the realm of the pleasantly Floydian, dream-like, intoxicatingly keyboarded and beautiful, a melody as beautiful as Sigur Ros’s Hoppípolla. Star gazing, shoe gazing? Who cares! If the album can claim a bona fide avant-garde masterpiece, this is the one.

Phantoms vs Fire: Photo credit Cassia Bortolanza

Nightwalker, as ominous in tone as it is in title has post-punk sensibilities; those of you more Numan than Eno will gravitate to this one (this should be the theme to a Ryan Gosling noir). Starfish, psychfunk in tune, is another post-modern seventies styled great.

While neither of the two closing tracks have much to offer (this is a malaise that befalls many concept albums; let’s face it, Eclipse is probably the worst song on Dark Side of The Moon) The Invisible Sea (the eleventh of a thirteen track compendium) is an alluring advent into the synthesised and idealised. Whirring symphonically through piano chords and traditionally classic strings, this is a beauteous song of solemn proportions.

If The Beach House  proves the most commercial and Cinematik the most accomplished, then Invisible is this writer’s personal favourite track. It’s heavenly in Oldfieldian bells, quadrophenic in sea shore opening, Vangelis-ish in synth-steering and Trent Reznor-esque in disharmonious comforts. In short, it’s the history of the musical cultist in one song. Fab.

A one man band, Thiago C. Desant creates a world for the listeners to immerse themselves into, without lyrics to steer, only ambience to hear. At its best, this is an album of innovation, adulation and seismic creation. Luckily, there’s enough best moments on this album.


❉ Phantoms vs Fire – ‘Swim’ is released by Hypersoma Records, 26 January 2018. Visit the Phantoms vs Fire  website. Buy on iTunes or Spotify.

❉ Phantoms vs Fire has also announced a new expanded version of ‘Swim’. This special edition, available exclusively on Bandcamp, is called ‘Deeper Swim’ and includes two additional tracks not available on the original version.  

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