welkin - strangers and exiles

tuesday, may 03, 2005 :: sungroover's e-magazine

by ethan marss

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This is an album that moves me just as much as any Pink Floyd album. From the first song to the last, Strangers and Exiles brings me along an ethereal, noetic journey where I learn more about this thing called existence. It continually confronts my fears then assuages them; shows me hope and assures me of enduring peace. This album, beyond any that has been released in the past however many years of my memory, shows a depth and an appreciation for tender musicianship and impacting lyrics. It is meant to reach body, mind and soul.

Geoff Birch of Vancouver BC, Canada, from what I can gather on Internet Reveiws, spends his days with Vancouver Downtown Eastside troubled youth and by night he leads this mystical journey, writing the material and manning the vocals and guitar-work (he couldn't be reached for interview...his phone was disconnected). His voice rings above the trees and soothes even the heaviest of migranes (I should know). The lyrics drip with the honey of one who has seen and tasted a higher state of being. The flow of the songs, the weaving in-and-out of the melodies, haunt me to my soul; but in such a way that leaves me breathing deeply and eager to live another day.

Able to live another day.

Who would have thought this from a band that professes it's allegiance to Christianity?! Doesn't George Bush also do that? Not to mention Creed and Garth Brooks? All three of them suck ass!

All is forgiven with Welkin, however...from the pan-flutes in the title track to the climaxes of the One Great Night to the other-wordly annihilation of greed in Veins to the yearning of lovers in Sunshine Valley to the steady beading of rain in Autumn Hymn, this is an album that gives and keeps on giving. If you feel like YOU are about to quit, then put this album on and let your pieces be put back together and listen for the new name you will receive. This album can introduce you to who you always have been (I should know that, too).

I have never met Geoff Birch, and after how I feel about this album, I am not sure that I want to. I want to picture the man as I do, standing above my own mess, carefully showing me how to find the groove that will make my soul hum rather than rattle. And I am scared that he might turn out to be some indie Vancouver rockstar who only wants fame and money. Whenever I listen to this album, though, I wish I could call him up and call him Bro, listen to some classic Hymns and drink back a couple of beers. The first time I heard this album, when only three songs deep, I stripped down to my socks and danced until I couldn't stand up. Now, since listening to this album hundreds, if not thousands, of times, I can say that the fluidity of its spirit flows like wind; its musical intensity pulls one toward self-realisation and its climaxes remind one of the finer points of the artwork that is manifested love.

Let me be perfectly clear: just because a band in unsigned doesn't mean they can't ROCK! For me, this album is top five, alongside Pink Floyd's Animals, the Flaming Lips' Yoshemi Battles the Pink Robots, Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot and the Grateful Dead's Terrapin Staion. The five of them would do nicely in a random spin in your multi-disc changer.

Keep up the good work, if you ever read this, Geoff Birch and Welkin! Sit back, relax, hold-on loosely, and enjoy the ride.

Ethan Marss

SUNGROOVERS E-MAGAZINE, copyright, May 2005.

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