Album: Shabason, Krgovich & Harris – Philadelphia review

By Phil Scarisbrick

Though what we hear on the surface may be a set of delicately-constructed compositions, dig a little deeper and you will discover a stunning, nuanced collection of songs that will leave you captivated.

‘Shabason, Krgovich and Harris is a recording project started by three friends (Joseph Shabason, Nicholas Krgovich and Chris Harris) in the fall of 2018.’ This simple introduction to a simply named band almost betrays the complexity of the music composed on that Autumnal weekend nearly two years ago. On the surface, this collection of songs is a sparsely constructed dream sequence that has lullaby-like delicacy. Dig a little deeper though, and you will discover that the dream is much more nuanced than a cursory perusal would have you believe.

The lack of percussive sounds allows the music to meander around, like a wandering traveler in search of a place to call home. We visit two conflicting ‘afternoons’ in our journey. The first – Friday Afternoon – is a near seven-minute lyric heavy track that ebbs and flows around the central ‘Wrap your arms around it’ hook. It staggers along with pauses that add a dramatic pathos to Krgovich’s beautiful vocal. The second PM we get a peek into is Tuesday Afternoon. This one is far more spacious, and at times sinister in its construction. You could almost imagine it sound tracking an Andrei Tarkovsky film, with its deep breaths and nonchalant left turns adding a cinematic edge to it.

The title track is one of the real highlights here, with Krgovich’s sumptuous falsetto anchored by a pulsing synth and punchy piano melody, with splashes of cymbal providing a rare appearance of percussion. A lone saxophone follows the piano line in the final third to add to the sense of stunning, inherent drama in the track.

As the sound of rain washes over another beautifully subtle piano line on the final part of the eight track odyssey, Krgovich’s voice once again blossoms into an incredibly captivating experience. It might be unfair on his two co-composers to single him out for his contribution, but you cannot help but be drawn in by his emotive vocals.

The beauty of Philadelphia is as much in what we do not hear as what we do. No note or syllable feels wasted, but often leaves you craving more. The songs are often long, but they were not written to be radio hits; they are sonic streams of consciousness that envelope themselves around your psyche. They cling to your emotions – tugging at them at will. The overriding emotion when listening though is happiness. The experience of listening to the record can take you down many rabbit holes, but you always emerge from them feeling uplifted. That is the real beauty of the record – it offers an escape from the real world, but even once you return, you’re in a better place than you were before.

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