The rock band explores memory loss by way of musical soundscape in their fourth studio album.
“Listen. Of all the things that you’re about to lose, this will be the most painful.” Thus begins Typhoon’s fourth studio album “Offerings,” a concept album that traces the lines of memory loss in dark acoustic crooning. Kyle Morton, the lead singer and lyricist of Typhoon, has described “Offerings” as “a record from the perspective of a mind losing its memory at precisely the same time the world is willfully forgetting its history … with no past and no future, there is only suffocating, annihilating present, looping on and on.” Typhoon makes this concept — that time is irrelevant, and the present is on loop — manifest within “Offerings” through melodic themes they introduce and then bring back with a sad sort of redemption.
Representing memory loss through song is an ingenious idea, as the medium is infinitely well-suited to it, and Typhoon delivers on the promise of the concept, rambling with glimmers of recognition only in the briefest moments. Morton deftly pulls together literary references and melodic themes in a multilayered soundscape, dark and foreboding. Past Typhoon albums illustrated that the band is no stranger to more classical symphonic arrangements, and he brings those storytelling and dynamics into “Offerings.”
“Offerings” has a sort of richness that rewards the patient listener, like the song “Wake.” The track fades out with the gibberish chant “Asa Nisi Masa,” a mnemonic device that alludes to Federico Fellini’s 1963 film “8 ½.” The film entwines reality with fantasy in a manner very tangibly similar to the protagonist of “Offerings,” who is lost in waves of the forgotten and webs of the remembered. This motif returns later, suggesting that the protagonist is clinging to some faint strand of memory. “Unusual” features restless voices in the background while Morton softly sings of redemption in a bloody river, perhaps an allusion both to the Old Testament’s plague of water turning into blood and the New Testament rite of baptism. The complexity of “Offerings” makes it infinitely re-listenable while simultaneously requiring a time investment to appreciate fully.
Narratively, “Offerings” is bleak yet poetic in its truth. It’s an extensive story that feels more like an epic told through song than anything else. In “Ariadne,” Morton describes the process of unraveling memory with the line “The spiral is unspooling,” and “Offerings” does just this, slowly unspooling tangles and snags, with echoes from other songs lyrically weaving their way back into the plot. The result is a labor of love that examines the murky shadows of who the protagonist was and who they are now. This makes the hidden track “Afterparty” feel like the redemption of all that went before. Slowly and softly, the protagonist fades blissfully into soft noise in “Sleep,” and then, moments later, there are cheers of welcome and bright lights in pure sound form: “You shed your clothes, you jump the boat and join us in the river,” sings a chorus of voices, and you swear you can hear them smiling.