It begins with a whisper: “Listen — of all the things that you are about to lose, this will be the most painful.” With that theatrical flourish, the expansive Portland, OR indie outfit Typhoon lurches into Offerings, a 70-minute concept album with four distinct movements — labeled “Floodplains,” “Flood,” “Reckoning,” and “Afterparty” — that document the slow mental deterioration of a dying man.
Clearly, Offerings is not an album you’d want to throw on for a dinner party or a trip to the gym. But for those who miss the epic-sounding indie-rock records of the late ’00s and early ’10s — a time when Arcade Fire made the world safe for baseball-team sized band lineups — then Offerings will seem like a hearty meal amid the scaled-back portions served up by so many contemporary artists. It’s an immersive experience that takes its time developing a mood, utilizing recurring musical motifs and disorienting sound effects to hint at a narrative without ever getting overly pedantic.
Formed by Kyle Morton in 2005, Typhoon has ballooned to as many as 12 members on previous records, though the band recently slimmed down to a relatively svelte seven-person lineup when Morton’s latest songs no longer required the use of a horn section. But Typhoon still creates an appropriately deep and wide sound to suit Morton’s 70mm character studies and ruminative mood pieces that are inspired by films like Fellini’s 8 1/2 and Shane Carruth’s mind-blowing cult favorite Upstream Color.
While Morton’s lyrical preoccupations derive from existential questions about death and the nature (and inevitable failure) of memory, musically he favors stately anthems that swell to overpowering crescendos. As he explained in our interview below, Morton relies on those emotional payoffs to evoke (rather than spell out) his album’s story.
Offerings is such a cinematic record. It’s not that it sounds like a film score — the experience of listening to it actually feels like watching a movie. I’m wondering: Did you ever want to be a filmmaker?
Definitely. The first Typhoon record — which no one can ever really hear because we took it off the internet, it’s kind of our embarrassing freshman effort that we self-released in 2005 — the whole idea of it was this film idea I had but I had no idea how to make a film. I had no directorial experience, so I was like, well I’ll just try this and see what happens if I translate it into a record.