Local Review: The Rose Phantom – Solace [EP]
Local Music Reviews
The Rose Phantom
The Rose Phantom = Goblin + Sisters of Mercy + David Bowie’s Berlin Trilogy
The Rose Phantom, the moniker of local musician Theodoric Newsom, is a project of equal parts imagery and music. The cover of Newsom’s latest EP, Solace, shows him donning a black fedora and pistol alone in the desert with a mass of black balloons threatening to lift him away: Underneath the album credits on the EP’s bandcamp release page is a direct address for all of your inevitable love letters; there’s a track here called “Empty Beds in Empty Rooms at Midnight” that features an extended synthesized flute solo. To Newsom’s credit, this commitment to appearance and aesthetic is matched in musical quality, as the four tracks on Solace form an eerie, romantic whole—cavernous synths and staccato piano lines, vague impressions of loneliness an a grizzly, outlaw narrator.
After a brief, dramatic intro cut, Newsom’s vocals enter deep and snarled. He is supported on the chorus by Sierra Rae. The duo paints a picture of a barren landscape, “where time is only dust,” and Newsom stands alone, hopelessly romantic. The deafening solitude hits home on the refrain in which Rae sings: “You can’t have a city without people.” It feels overly obvious, at first, but as the track progresses, the absurd sorrow that permeates these words comes through. It is like walking around a discomfortingly empty neighborhood, feeling crept in on by the plethora of houses and the absence of bodies. Flute solo and all, “Empty Beds” is an exercise in repetition, with Newsom pulling everything he can out of one simple, muffled drum loop.
Solace forms one half of a double-EP, with the concluding Sympathy release to appear next spring. Fittingly, Newsom ends the EP with a cliffhanger. “A Return” is an extended piano solo with light pads hanging in the back, a composition marked by a hesitance strung through minor-key harmonies and sparse melodies. The melancholy is on full blast, ringing through every low-register octave pulse that Newsom stabs toward the track’s conclusion. Head to The Rose Phantom Bandcamp page to listen to Solace, and ready your quill for the impending confession of love you’re about to mail off to Newsom’s house. –Connor Lockie