Philosophy has always been more than an interest to me, so much so that I actually got a degree in this (what is typically considered useless in our contemporary world) discipline. So, when an artist creates music that is tied to philosophy, I tend to get super excited. This is the case for The Philosophers Are Dead by The Billows Burn Bright. This short EP is a fantastic journey that keeps a running theme of change throughout its runtime.
The first three tracks exemplify this theme. In all three, an element is introduced that seems as though it will be the constant throughout the song only for these elements to shift and morph into something that is nearly unrecognizable by the track’s end. On the first track, It All Feels the Same, we are introduced with a steady rhythm that seems to slowly fall apart and degrade as the track progresses while a bright synth lead carries us along. The next track, Spirt Walking, gives us more of this pitch-shifted percussion accompanied by a haunting yet bright synth that stays quite steady itself until we reach the near end and we are met with a track that sounds nothing like where we originally started. How Slowly Time Passes gives yet even more of this with an exceptionally darker tone overall that gave me the sensation of falling into a deep hole that I saw no end to as the percussion grows louder and more degraded.
Once the track 18 Hours comes on, the album starts to take a slightly different tone; this one sounding less dark and much more resigned in tone. It is almost as if someone has been searching for meaning this whole time and has been unable to find it. 18 Hours presents us with a tone akin to a resigned “oh well” that sets us up for the final track.
This final track, Ribbons, is hands down my favorite on the album. With a pace and rhythm that faintly reminds me of Death Stranding by CHVRCHES (yes, it is from the game of the same name, for those who finished it), this track is the perfect capstone to the album that comes complete with some unexpected but most welcome lyrics. The refrain of the lyrics is that “you can’t save everyone” which is the ultimate source of frustration for virtually every ethical philosopher that ever existed. And since they are all dead and gone, does anyone even care to try anymore?
The Philosophers are Dead is one of the best thematic EPs I have heard in some time. Granted, I’m probably being biased due to the thematic material, but I will readily admit to that. Regardless, it is a fantastic work that deserves to be heard. The Billows Burns Bright may have accidentally described the history of philosophy by musically expressing the feeling of the ground being pulled out from under you and finishing with slightly optimistic existentialism. If not true, then it is still an incredible five-song trip.