NYC-based Resolver is the indie brainchild of Brendan Cavanagh. On his 2018 full-length Playground, Cavanagh explores his sonic palette in full, providing listeners with a dense, beautiful soundscape in which one can easily get lost. Cavanagh plays almost every instrument and also contributes to the production side of things, with additional contributions by Stephanie Griffith (viola) and Alec Budd (synths/production/mixing/mastering).
Resolver – Playground
“Quiet Future” begins with vocals and clean guitar, which are quickly joined by a full rhythm section. The music hits a stop time chorus with the only instrument we hear being a brassy-synth pad, and Cavanagh moves into falsetto as he sings “Reflecting the sunset / somewhere away from here / the water is warm / and I have no fear”, a transcendent moment sure to give a listener chills. The chorus is repeated as the rest of the arrangement returns, creating a temporary climax that falls way to another verse. After we return to the transcendence of the chorus, the song climaxes in full, leaving the listener in warm awe of the power of music.
The penultimate track, “Magnolia”, features Stephanie Griffith on viola. Her haunting playing opens the track and sets the stage for the enigmatic music to come. The music rises and falls, incorporating a full arrangement before allowing almost everything to drop out into silence, but Griffith’s playing is ever-present throughout the journey, a constant companion to the listener from beginning to end.
From beginning to end, Playground is a tour-de-force, showcasing every aspect of Resolver and Cavanagh’s musical acumen, from his technical abilities to his compositional ones. It is a musical journey in every sense of the phrase, and it manages to fall into that special category of art that can be either an enjoyable escape or an emotional experience.
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