Reviewed by Stephen Krock
A high concept album is always a risk. It can become easily alienating to potential new audiences. Earthbound tells the story of a cosmonaut floating back down to his home planet after escaping from his malfunctioning ship. The tracks trace his inner turmoil as his life flashes before his eyes. Or rather, his ears. In the form of a hodgepodge of electronic sounds, mixed with synth-laced vocals, and discordant instruments.
It’s a haunting, modern tale, for sure, but it requires active listening or the lot of it can just turn into white noise. When those vocals crawl up through the wreckage of technological sounds, however, Earthbound shines. “Terrible Machine,” “Interzone Expert,” and “Echo the Sun” are all unique and entrancing songs that unravel like you’re watching Inception. There’s something new to hear and experience each time. “Viscera” offers a more organic sound, as our musical hero approaches his earthly destination. Whether the final goal is its surface or six feet under it, is up for you to decide. One thing that is not up for debate, though, is the awesomeness of “Whatever Ghost,” one of the closing tracks. It appropriately captures the entire essence of Earthbound. Hypnotic, weird, playful, sorrowful.
Overall, Fortune Howl is worth listening to. The vocal tracks make up for the meandering beep-boops that make up a great deal of this release.