The Eternal’s Witness To An Execution is an album that invites repeated listens. Self-described as lo-fi instrumental bedroom music, The Eternal’s album washes over the listener and functions as a more involved type of ambient listen. Fingerpicked guitar and the sound of an apparent pedal steel and/or bends provide a narrative throughout a dreamlike record. Don’t be fooled by the title, this music isn’t nearly as dark as suggested. Witness To An Execution has more in common with Jon Brion than Angelo Badalamenti.
Recorded from 2002-3, one can hear the pleasant strains of indie rock that were so popular than. There’s notes of Wilco and Nick Drake in the fingerpicked melodies, two undeniable powerhouses at that time in indie music, the latter experiencing his first real wave of mass critical acclaim. The Eternal’s guitar sounds also echo the tone of Robert Fripp and his work with Brian Eno and David Bowie. The combination of influences synthesizes an original sound that deviates from Jon Brion’s soundtrack work by sounding more unpolished and personal.
For me, ‘We Drove All Night For This’ functions as the centerpiece of the record, a beautiful droning riff punctuated by alien synthesizer sounds. One of the keys to why this album works so well is the guitar tone. Whatever guitar, amp, and processing equipment Matt Martinosky was using produced a chiming and reflective tone that adds a delicate ambience to his compositions.
I also hear echoes of the Elephant 6 Collective, specifically in ‘The Bawl Room.’ That track may as well be an outtake from Black Foliage, or Dusk at Cubist Castle. One of the things that’s so nice about this record is it evokes a time before indie rock music became commercialized to the point that it is today. The sounds were indescribably different. It’s like how every decade has its sound, Witness To An Execution is very much a product of the early 2000s.
‘A Needle In Capital Hill’ also has a progression that would be at home on a Wilco record. The combination of a folksy progression with electronic ambient sounds in the background was why Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was so successful and inspired so many musicians when it was released.
‘I’ve Always Hated That Dress’ sounds more like a droning My Bloody Valentine track. It’s clear The Eternal absorbed the musical trends of the 1990s and early 2000s before he produced this record. It’s an enjoyable instrumental guitar album that makes one nostalgic for the days before smartphones and drone strikes