Stagnant Pools: Geist – Indiana two-piece Stagnant Pool‘s musical influences are easily heard through their music, particularly on their latest album Giest, (giest being the German word for spirit or ghost). The two members of Stagnant Pools are brothers Doug on drums and Bryan Enas on vocals and guitar. Geist comes two years after their debut album Temporary Room released on Polyvinyl Records.
The name, Stagnant Pools, conjures strange images of a body of still water, somewhat disturbed by the potential algae infestation, and somewhat at peace in the stagnation of its being. Listening to Stagnant Pools is a comparable experience. Geist is a collection of lo-fi drone jams, at times dangerously still and others a peaceful hum of fuzzed out guitar and driving drums.
The album starts out slow with, ‘You Whir,’ a operatic piece that follows Bryan’s droning vocals with similar droning instrumentation. The second track, ‘To Begin’ kicks off the album melodically and rhythmically. Take a listen – if ‘You Whir’ doesn’t strike your fancy ‘To Begin’ just might, and if you like that track, you are sure to enjoy the rest of Geist. The album in its entirety carries a similar tone, all songs crafted in the same vein.
Title track ‘Geist’ appearing in third place on the album, takes a more creative turn with its multi-layered guitar riffs and distinguishable vocals that break at times from monotony into harmonic crescendos around the staccato drums of the song. Stagnant Pools have in the past been compared to lo-fi giants Joy Division and Sonic Youth. While the comparisons are not inaccurate, they are perhaps a lazy comparison. Stagnant Pools possesses their own distinctive sound, unique from both Joy Division and Sonic Youth. While it is clear that Stagnant Pools is influenced by these bands, they do not necessarily follow with their sounds.
‘Intentions’ is the fourth track on Geist, and perhaps the album’s strongest. A distinguishable verse-chorus format is heard, and the layers of guitar work in a synchronous melody instead of clashing against the powerful, ever present drums. Props to Stagnant Pools for the composition of the album – they save their best, strongest tracks for the middle and later half, so the introductory songs slowly ease the listener into their style, which allows one to enjoy their stronger tracks all the more.
‘Filed Down’, track five, breaks down nicely about halfway through, allowing a full intermingling of fast drumming and layered guitar riffs to interact and play out before diving back into the vocals of the track. ‘Ever So’ slows down the pace, with a slower tempo for the beat-keeping drums and easily audible vocals. The following track, ‘His Head Was Warm’ keeps the slower pace, a peaceful balance to its fast-paced predecessors. ‘Dots and Lines’ is slightly reminiscent of English post-punk group, Editors, with the droned-out vocals soaring over the heavy drums and guitar.
Penultimate track ‘Decoder’ solidifies Stagnant Pools distinct sound as a culmination of the other tracks on Geist. The guitar riffs are more fuzzed out, the vocals less audible. Perhaps Stagnant Pools demands the addition of a bass player to add some variance to their sound. The final track on the album, ‘Brute’ begins strong, with a simple guitar riff (using an effect besides distortion) and an easy to follow drum beat. The song is one of the better songs off the album.
All in all, Geist is simply a lo-fi jam album, for those who wish to plug their headphones in and literally drown out the rest of the world (and maybe take a nap as well?). Stagnant Pools is a new act, fresh to the inception and creation of a full album of coherent tracks, and this perhaps shines through in Geist. Some varied instrumentation in the future would also be appreciated. However, not a bad sophomore effort from brother duo Stagnant Pools…7/10