Nowadays, concept albums are few and far between. We have officially entered the singles era, brought to you in part by streaming platforms, and the rising rates of music consumption. For better or worse, technology has greatly influenced the way music is created and distributed.
But for a band like New Masons, the art of storytelling lays the foundation for their new project, Wave Pt. I: The Story of Hagop and Ichika. Released on October 19th, Wave Pt.1 is a fluid concept EP - one that chronicles an emotional journey of self-discovery, love and purpose through the fictional characters of Hagop and Ichika. A collection of songs, devoid of gravity and constructed by a series of bittersweet soundscapes, will have you lost in a headspace you may find difficult to navigate.
This immersive experience begins with "Mask," a song that wastes no time trying to hide Hagop’s insecurities. “I don’t know how I got this far/ Never filling me up,” preaches a lifestyle that lacks a wholesome quality, and later reveals that the void can only be filled by his counterpart. Without Ichika, life is unfulfilling, but together, they are a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. As Hagop puts it, “separated it’s us/ but together it’s love.”
"Two / Torches" follows up with a more confident approach. As the tune progresses into the pre-chorus, there is a sense of triumph, as if the characters have collectively prevailed. Though, doubts are quickly brought back by the overly confident couplet, “if you love somebody, somebody will love you.” Evidently, for Hagop and Ichika, ignorance is bliss. The succeeding instrumental break encapsulates the energy of the record - complete with atmospheric pads, tribal drums, funk guitar riffs and synths galore - in all of its indie-rock glory.
The reality check anticipated from "Two / Torches" hits home in "Black Feather," as Hagop and Ichika visit a bleaker part of their story, while New Masons explore the darker side of their sound. A beautifully distressing call and response duet proves a perfect fit for the song’s lyrical tone. “Feel purity fading as this feeling is soaked in fear,” they sing. The chorus repeats a few times before "Black Feather" finishes, allowing the audience to bask in the characters’ remorse.
Though the story doesn’t quite conclude in "Blind, Bear, Fire," the characters seem to have at least matured in an attempt to find their footing. With a more relaxed nature, the song’s intricacies shine through, revealing the band’s songwriting flexibility. As the record fades, contentment presents itself.