ERAAS is a tribal atmospheric quartet based in Brooklyn led by its two founding members Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz which arose from the ashes of New England-based project Apse in 2011, forming with the desire to create more ritualistic and darker themes. Live, the band, generally as a 4-piece, elicit foreboding, cautionary themes, mixing driving percussion, krautrock basslines tangled with hypnotic guitars and ethereal vocals. Their self-titled debut album comes out October 2, 2012 on Felte.
A sense of place. It's a notion that has informed some of our most memorable works of art — everyone has a favorite book or painting or album that somehow has the power to immerse you completely in its world, so much so that you don't want to leave.
This sense of creating art that can spirit you away somewhere else entirely is something that most definitely also informs the self-titled debut album from Brooklyn-based band ERAAS. In 2011, the band's founding members, Robert Toher and Austin Stawiarz, both ex-members of New England-based project Apse, were gravitating more towards ritualistic and darker themes not fully explored in their previous incarnation. In searching for a place to translate this mood to record, the duo settled on a rambling, atmospheric mansion in Western Massachusetts outside of Northampton. ERAAS decided to retreat to an area steeped in history and its own distinct atmosphere — all deserted hill towns and melancholy beauty — to make this record. The decision paid rich creative dividends — this is an album that's heavy with both an ominous mood and a certain orchestral grandeur.
When you listen to these songs, the ambience of the house itself is palpable, its creaking boards and tenebrous hallways reflected in the claustrophobic, echo-laden production — from the mournful strings that introduce the opening "Black House" until the flurry of tribal percussion that brings final track "Trinity" to a conclusion, there's a real sense of mood that never relents. The album plays out more like a single coherent entity than a simple collection of songs, the tracks emerging ghost-like from the shadows and then receding into interludes of whispers and strange, abstract samples.
The songs are built around insistent basslines and driving percussion, along with a distinctive, evocative vocal sound created with deft utilization of delays and reverbs. Tracks like "Briar Path" and "A Presence" sound like stumbling across secret rituals, all haunted vocal melodies and spidery guitar figures. Other songs see subtle elements drifting in and out of the mix— "Crescent" is adorned by a delicate piano melody that sounds like it was recorded from an old Victrola, strange whisperings lurk deep in the mix of "Ghost", while "Trinity" strips things back to percussion and an insistent, rasping vocal.
Like a dream (or a nightmare), this is a record that invites you into its own world, a world that's strange and unfamiliar, but also fascinating and compelling, with subtleties and intricacies that reveal themselves with repeated listens. ERAAS is an album with its own distinct sense of place — a place that's worth visiting again and again.