The beauty that The Cradle expresses is humble, and central force Paco Cathcart's voice is timid and delicate—a feather, a flower. Listening to Bag of Holding I float in a mushroom-like haze. It's as if I don't exist at all. If only. Cathcart’s music has the ability to pull you inside its slightly decayed world and lets you experience life through their vision, in all its cluttering of beauty.
Unlike many of Cathcart's various solo records and collaborative projects, Bag Of Holding is a pop record, but not at all traditional. Elements of Sufjan Stevens' Illinois are apparent, but not exaggerated. Lightly plucked acoustic guitar patterns recall those of Phil Elverum. There are moments on the album that sink into the earth, melding into the calm vibrations of universal energy.
The kraut rhythms and off-beat nature is also reminiscent of early-mid period Animal Collective, circa Feels. But comparisons are ultimately irrelevant—the music of the past doesn't create the music of the present; rather, it's all connected through a web that only the translucent soul can illuminate. History will repeat itself endlessly until all is wiped out. Who knows how many slates the nature of destruction has wiped clean? With all the heating and melting humankind has brought to this earth, it seems likely that the universe has begun and ended many times over. History has proven that humans cannot exist in harmony with one another. There will always be war, power, hate. The role of music is to allow the listener to notice all the remaining beauty in life that humanity hasn't already exterminated.
Bag Of Holding is proof there’s still something worthwhile. The compositional approach utilized by longtime collaborator Sammy Weissberg is sparse yet undeniably essential. The orchestral instrumentation is distinct, not adornment. Not one harmonic note is wasted. Bag Of Holding is anti-fluff, anti-cliché. It exists on its own.
The cover photo accurately describes the music. Strange objects are placed together in a patternless rhythm. There are hooks, bones, rusted parts, bits of string—objects that one might find at the bottom of the sea. And that's how the music sounds. It’s put together in ways where you can't exactly visibly make them out. You know there's a purpose, but just can't understand what it is. You try to make it out, to glide with The Cradle's heart and soul. But the brailed language they use, the stream of consciousness lyrics, quiet vocals, and lush arrangements—they all coincide to create this obscure piece of art.
This record is one swooping feeling, but the feeling’s concealed. It's warm and encompassing, like being wrapped in a Snuggie and smothered into serenity. The Cradle creates a soft, comfortable environment for the anxious set to leap into and dwell.