A criminally underrated band with a criminally good taste for crossover fusion, The Death Particle shines brighter than ever on their sophomore effort.
The Death Particle is the brainchild of Herald P. Cattie, a British composer. The Death Particle is quite a young project and it is (unfortunately) pretty much unknown to most. With the help of a host of guest musicians, some truly stirring arrangements come to life in a form that isn’t just beautiful and charming but also thought provoking and charged with a strong emotional content. After having introduced the world to the first album, Chapter I, which is a riveting and remarkable journey, we are all now up against the sophomore album, Velox Mortem (meaning ‘swift death’ in Latin).
Velox Mortem is a surprisingly short album (even by EP standards) clocking in at just a notch over fifteen minutes. Boasting thirteen tracks, one may wonder what’s up with the running time. Well, six of the songs aren’t actual songs, they’re something of an artifice; so to say since each is just one second of silence. All the titles of the songs read in sequence add up to what I’d wager is the leitmotif of the record in the form of a ‘haiku’. Usually I’m not particularly fond of such things, however, it’s not only a fitting and tasteful trick, but it also adds an extra layer to the tunes at hand.
The rest of the seven songs which are actual songs differ a lot between them. There’s quite a tasteful display of fusion that doesn’t shy away from mixing together all sorts of ideas and instruments for a certain effect. The whole package follows closely to its predecessor in this aspect and fortunately this is the only actual similarity. We see a more profound emotional tone in composition, where each note and every little pause serves a well-established purpose. The chamber orchestra format shines across the record, giving a fair time in the spotlight for each instrument to say its piece. While it is not immediately obvious, the piano and the percussion form the backbone of the entire affair, guiding the strings and the brass with elegance.
I’d like to make a real quick rundown to emphasize all the aforementioned things. “Heart” opens up the record with a soft, suave, and mildly-paced ambiance that eases the listener in, creating something of a wistful aural massage. Next, “Lungs” creates a stark contrast with a more lively pace and very upbeat vibe. Following up with a rather danceable mood, “Mind” explores the textures previously displayed with a joyous dynamic. “Nerves” continues the mood partially, slowing things down and reaching for a more contemplative state of mind, preparing us for the next song. With something of a drum-and-bass inspired rhythmic balance and a melancholic piano tune, “Skin” goes deepest from an emotional point of view. Slowly creeping about with a somber attitude, “Bones” leads the way towards the previously mentioned artifice and, obviously, towards the closing track. “Heart & Lungs (Reprise)” reiterates some of the mildly-paced, elegant, and bright elements closing Velox Mortem with grace.
The Death Particle are really on to something here. Jazzy overtones mixed with modern classical influences transposed onto an inspired bed of arrangements have never sounded so good. It’s not only originality that scores points – the fact that there is a strong emotive cue embedded makes things all the more enchanting. It’s not often we receive such a package. Velox Mortem fills a void some of us never knew existed, and that’s amazing. The Death Particle is one of the finest bands out there, and I sincerely hope it never stops its activity.