With Meridian Grand Rapids, Michigan’s the Soil & the Sun weave their individual sounds together into a vibrant shimmering whole, self-described as Experiential Spiritual Orchestral Rock, that NPR finds “just delightful.”
Benjamin Baker-Jackson, Alex McGrath, Ashley McGrath, Michael Newsted, Joanna Perry, and Jacki Warren recorded their newest collection of songs at the Audiotree Studios in Chicago, Illinois, in February, 2014. Departing from the home-spun production process of their previous records (Wake Up, Child in 2011 and What Wonder is this Universe! in 2012), Meridian was recorded with engineer and producer Rick Fritz (Peter Cetera, The Beach Boys.) Working with Fritz allowed the band to create a record exponentially closer to the core of their vision than ever before, with McGrath noting that Fritz had “the ability to interpret our sonic dreams and the know-how to make them a reality.”
Fritz’ involvement proved most fortuitous, as the Soil & the Sun’s vision has been rapidly expanding since their last release. Fronted by the near-quixotic and musically adept McGrath couple, the band has plunged into sonic depths previously unplumbed. Greater synth textures, more electric guitar, modulation, and staggering time signatures await those willing to make the journey into the heart of the record. Michael Newsted’s energy is more articulated and essential than ever before. His sweeping, expansive bass playing lifts these songs into new echelons of both euphoria and desolation.
Alex McGrath notes the changing creative dynamics at play in the band adding, “the writing process for this album was much more collaborative than the last two”. Beyond the contributions of the core members, some of Meridian’s sonic diversity can be attributed to guest performers Chris Hainey of Maps & Atlases, Kellen Kerwin of Kellen & Me, and Anton Dang of O’ Brother.
Hand in hand with their ambitious studio efforts the Soil & the Sun remains foremost an exciting and impressive live band. Touring throughout North America, they drive & sleep on Scout, their beautiful bus, sing to each other by day, take photographs, eat figs, and drink ‘būch to stay healthy after the transcendent performances they’ve committed to presenting each night.
Meridian IS the Soil & the Sun. Those willing to submit and let Meridian flow through them will find themselves changed, elevated by the tonal witchcraft woven by these collaborative musical shaman. Immediately engaging but intricately layered, the careful listener will soon find themselves chasing their own tails down the records fractal hallways. Meridian will be released on August 19th with an extensive North American tour to follow.