After at least six years in the making, This Island Earth’s debut album, “Wounded Tropic, Vol. 1,” dropped earlier this month. The album, the brainchild of local songwriter and former Isles guitarist Elijah Goodall, was preceded by the single “Tropic Rising,” released early last year. That track’s swirling guitars, ambient soundscapes and evolving rhythms offered up a pretty good idea of what to expect from the full-length, at least sonically; thematically, the album is a tougher nut to crack.
“Wounded Tropic,” which Goodall stated will eventually encompass three albums, tells the story of a small island ravaged by a tropical storm, with different songs representing four distinct voices: natives, the island, the ocean and the storm. “Vol. 1” ends with the arrival of the storm in the final track, “Tempest Futurae”; the bulk of the album serves to set the scene and mood as the tempest slowly builds.
Through field recordings (everything from gentle rain to emergency broadcast noises to wildlife sounds), Goodall creates a sense of creeping uneasiness that serves as a throughline leading up to the climax of the storm. Individual songs blend together by design, with the often ethereal instrumentation and vocals (supplied by Goodall with help from Emily Afton and Laura Weinbach on various tracks) floating by on top of Goodall’s solid bass and Micah Hummel’s pounding percussion.
As the album progresses, the voices of the island’s inhabitants and the island itself come to the fore. “Sons & Daughters” showcases the matriarchal role the Island serves in the narrative, and is one of the most deeply personal tracks on the album (Goodall became a father during the writing and recording process, and this had a profound effect on all three albums, Goodall said). Other highlights include second single “Creation Myths,” which combines Afrobeat-esque guitars with an electronic breakdown and soaring vocals; and the ominous turns of “River Hands.”
Goodall said he expects to release the next two volumes at a rate of one per year. A release show for “Vol. 1” will take place at Goodall’s studio, Ghost Island Studios, on April 20; email Goodall at email@example.com for venue and ticket information.
— Brian McElhiney, The Bulletin