Agalloch continues their partiality towards using their EP's as a tool to venture out further in their quest to explore more diverse musical territory. However, while one could certainly argue that on any one of their previous full length albums the band has never been hesitant to incorporate various different influences into their own sonic canvas; their EP's do paint a slightly different picture. The latest offering simply entitled The White EP is no exception, offering a collection of compositions recorded between 2004 and 2007, which are rooted primarily in the folk and ambient style. It also finds them returning stylistically to the musical terrain covered on Pale Folklore and The Mantle.
The disc begins with the first of three tracks which reference the influential, cult movie The Wicker Man. The delicate blend of acoustic guitar, coupled with a brief trace of electric, on the melancholic "The Isle of Summer", sets the mood for the rest of the album. The same formula is applied to "Birch Black", a song which features a bit more electric this time layered over the pounding tympani drum work. "Hollow Stone" is an atmospheric, simple, ambient piece of music with only the faintest hints of distant voices and falling rain as accompaniment. This segues directly into the albums centerpiece and perhaps most musically enriching composition, the seven minute "Pantheist". Built once again around the acoustic / electric guitar combination, this track features more basic, tribal style drumming with only slight vocal enhancements. "Birch White" is the most accessible track here, which finds vocalist / guitarist John Haughm reciting the words of A.S.J. Tessimond's poem "Birch Tree" with just an acoustic guitar and accordion behind him. The final two tracks "Sowilo Rune" and "Summerisle Reprise" complete the Wicker Man influence. "Sowilo Rune" is highlighted by Haughm's evocative whispers, and a shimmering keyboard and piano arrangement, before closing with sampled dialogue from the film. "Summerisle Reprise", performed entirely on the piano is quite simply a gorgeous and enthralling piece of music, and closes things out in perfect fashion.
Agalloch has once again showed they are always willing to branch out into new musical territories, and The White EP certainly won't dissapoint long time fans. However, as this one is limited to only 2000 copies, you might want to hunt this one down now.
1) The Isle of Summer
2) Birch Black
3) Hollow Stone
5) Birch White
6) Sowilo Rune
7) Summerisle Reprise