This fall, Philadelphia’s National Eye releases its very third album of wonderful music on Park the Van Records, entitled The Farthest Shore.
Initially conceived as a short-ish musical movie (featuring a type of animation that hasn’t been invented yet) telling the story of a young man who embarks on a quest to find someone he has inadvertently turned invisible. Along the way he has some bizarre adventures involving a gigantic ocean liner, a talking airplane, a guerilla army of cats, and a power-mad movie director.
Needless to say, it was an ambitious plan that had no chance in heck of ever actually coming to fruition. Other ideas came and went (like a graphic novel, a children’s book, etc.) and while they were coming and going, National Eye recorded what was to be “the music” for the project. This amounted to 12 songs that loosely mirrored the events of the story but since it was never intended to be a strict “rock opera” type deal, function as songs in their own right.
Which is a good thing, because after an exhausting year of insane ideas, National Eye finally decided to move on and just put out the songs as songs, the album as an album, and let the Broadway Musical version (for instance) of The Farthest Shore exist solely in the fevered brains of the band and its fans.
And that is just as well, because the album is a beautiful mystery unto itself. Recorded, as ever, in songwriter Richard Flom’s South Kensington home and mixed by The Spinto Band’s Nick Krill (in the same house because he also lived there at the time), The Farthest Shore features all original Eye members as well as a host of talented musicians from The Capitol Years, Dr. Dog, Buried Beds, Adam Arcuragi, Ted Fleath’s Gargantuan Windbags, and string arrangements by Gretchen Lohse.
As lush and exploratory as its predecessor Roomful of Lions, The Farthest Shore benefits from far greater clarity and focus. The band has launched a blog to chart the record’s strange journey, as well as showing much artwork by bandmember Jeff Love from its various incarnations.
It was a weird ride, but the band is thrilled to have the music finally heard.