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Review: Gish – The Stitcher

I’ll describe it in one sentence; this EP is the soundtrack for your walk towards the heavenly gates.

The Stitcher is a 5-song EP consisting of 15 minutes that was released by Gish in October, 2019. The tracks are as follows; “The Stitcher”, “Sif & Sibyl”, “Dreas”, “Tadpole Teeth”, and “The Bluebell Bed”. I feel as if I had fallen asleep without notice, gone through the process of death, then woken up in a daze from said dream I didn’t even know I was in. The happily haunting bright vocals that Gish carries throughout The Stitcher is what has me trapped inside this musically enchanted angelic bubble.

For myself the more I deeply listen, I feel that I am in a world that is comprised of the imagery The Stitcher offers. I’m floating, and so much more. I may seamlessly fly through clouds without any worries or disbeliefs. Drenched in the purest air, the brightest clouds following white light, before entering the dark glow illuminated by the cast of a dreary full moon only wolves call to. “The Stitcher”… I am joyfully trapped by these angels, they are graciously passing out luxurious wine, the finest grapes handpicked, while all playing harmonious air-like harps, strings and vocal symphonies in which the gods and their people may only hear.

The EP starts off with the self-titled track “The Stitcher”. Immediately giving you the color palette that enters you visually, and sonically. You sway in a motion that is similar to the rocking of a sleepy new born baby as these first 27 seconds warm you into a daze. As the vocals enter and melodic layers build, I feel so cautiously held on the brink of flying and falling. Lyrically the song casts two members; “He” & a conjoined character listed as “You/I” that insists of the song being written in a 1st and 3rd party format. As the “He” in the song brings “You/I” to an incredible high that is altered by a wound – I’m following the lyrics “He cut you up and what a shame” – you do not get this sense of betrayal from “You/I”. As the upcoming lyrics read “The lies that I could spin. Golden thread to hold you tightly. Lies that I could spin. Wove a golden bed to hold you nightly” they paint an image of new love, a promising future and a bleak enticing road for abuse within these two’s relationship that “You/I” won’t breach as “Fate will braid our hair together”. In awe of these lyrics I am very found this opening track “The Stitcher” presented. 

The second track titled “Sif & Sibyl” grants you the daydream you’ve asked for to escape the day you’re having. The soft details between the melody and inner layers within this track transport you into your mind to resolve some inner conflict. Loop-like qualities and a warm volcanic bass that comes and goes this song paints my vision a light blue over a dark grey, intertwining vines and myself alone in a misty garden. This track for me, gives me visuals that are vast and expansive. Whenever I listen to music and I stop thinking, which is when I find the most pleasure in music. The moment thought begins to fade, and I just hear what someone else has to say while I gain these hallucination like visuals, that, that’s my favorite thing. These two songs really give me that heightened sense of sight and hearing. 

“Dreas” the third track which very well may be my favorite of the EP, gives me a sense of traveling, endlessly in a methodical musical journey. There are choir-like vocals that haunt the background, a roaring upper vocal melody, and pulsing harps with that signature airy quality of this and all of these songs that I enjoy so much. The battling of the main vocals against each other are the ‘ebony and ivory’ of the track, it feels as if each breathe is accompanied by the deaths of the character’s egos and hollow grounds it walks every so lightly on. “You say how I am good with golden thread. But how, my love, I’ve come to shake”. The theme of this song lyrically coexists in its own world with respects to the two previous tracks. – I may also add that the “sliding drop” back in to beginning around 1:50 is really cool. The lyrics are ever so slightly adding to a story that I am still trying to decode – which I like, it isn’t upfront and there are secrets. 

“Tadpole Teeth” reminds me of a game I used to play as a kid called “Monster Rancher3” on PS2. There was a moment in that game where the scenery begins to darken and all the creatures, mushrooms, big trees and plants are sleeping. For me, this song brings me back to when I would leave my PlayStation on and I would just listen to that in the background as I fell asleep. This song in particular & honestly, the whole EP, really puts me in a dream-like conscious state of mind. It is just well written, with lush layers that are spacious. 

The final track of this EP is “The Bluebell Bed” which is also the shortest track, taking up 2 minutes 9 seconds of the 15 minutes EP. “The Bluebell Bed” is a continuously growing song with deep harmonious sounds and strumming. So many seemingly hidden layers that push and push this song. It is a perfect closer to this EP. For me it’s the parting away song, this song really gives you a climatic goodbye and sense of shimmering back from the heavens, waking you up to wherever you were. All in all, this song and the EP as a whole was so perfectly cohesive. I would have enjoyed it all even as one beautiful 15 minute one song epic, but I thoroughly enjoy how each mood and chapter was separated for me. Thank you Gish! 

So—I wrote most of that in the first days listening to “The Stitcher” pretty heavily. Its been about a week now and I’ve listened to it a few times since. Coming back to it, this is what I thought. I thought there’s density to these songs. The materialism in “Dreas” which is the golden thread, with the imagery of the character shaking gives me the sense that the love  and/or sense of these two beings are becoming unmanageable – I just think it is great, it gives you a deeper sense to whole play and sway of this EP. With earlier lyrics in the song stating “you are my deepest sleep” I imagine this comfort is being to fall through the “thread” so to speak. It is a very comforting and disjointing aurora that fogs my ears. There seems to be an endless amount of metaphors I can dive into but I don’t want to “spoil” too much of it. Give it a listen yourself, give it another listen and think about it. I’m excited for the future releases by Gish, go check out “The Stitcher” & their previously released EP “Alewife”, much to look forward to! 

I got a chance to ask Gish some questions! Here is what they had to say ☺

Q: Do you feel the songs in “The Stitcher” express an emotion or depict a part of your life? If so, what? 

A: “Hi! I’d say the songs on The Stitcher do represent a significant part of my life. I was diagnosed with PTSD in February of this year after the things I was pushing down started really affecting my daily life. I decided to start writing again at the same time i began therapy. The songs more reflect how the trauma and recovery process can change relationships and the way you view yourself…”

Q: What’s a difference you hear in your own song writing and writing process that has evolved from your first EP, “Alewife” to this one, “The Stitcher”?

A: “I guess the biggest difference in the writing is that Alewife wasn’t really about me. For Alewife I would visit very old cemeteries and read the epitaphs, think about the people there, then go home with day dreams and melodies in my head to write about. The Stitcher came more from a lot of self-reflection.” 

Q: Each song seems to have beautiful angelic choirs, soothing harp like instruments and multiply layers of harmonies. Tell me, what is the song writing process is like? Do you start off with a melody then develop it? Does it start with lyrics?

A: Firstly, thank you so much for saying that. I usually start with a base melody and then when I’m feeling strongly about something I record myself improv-singing over it. Once I’ve gotten the vocal melody and a base melody a little more roughed out I start writing and piecing together everything else. I’m usually very slow with writing song, but it can happen in any number of ways”.

Q: Who are some of your artists/bands you love that have bright and or subtle influences in your music? Do other forms of art influence your music?

A: Kate Bush, Rasputina, Orion Rigel Dommisse, and Tori Amos have all been huge influences on how I make music. Outside of musicians, I do get inspired a lot by history, mythology, and folk tales. Mount Auburn Cemetery has been a huge place of inspiration for me too, I definitely recommend checking it out before it gets too cold.”

There is a lot of inspiration to be internalized from Gish, as a musician and from their influence’s perspective. Be sure to be on the look out for future releases!

-Navarre Williams