By Justin Kay
Split Screens self-titled debut EP is the solo project of Jesse Cafiero. While his name may be relatively unknown right now, if I was a gamblin’ man I would be willing to bet that it won’t remain that way for long. Cafiero uses a combination of reverb soaked guitars, bright keyboard sounds and syncopated drums to create a EP that is both ambient and beautiful. The most surprising and delightful thing about this album is the use of the lap steel guitar which adds extra depth and emotion to an already excellent set of songs and elevates them to a level few bands are ever able to reach. It is also really refreshing to hear an artist use an instrument, that is usually reserved for country and bluegrass styles, in a genre that you would not really expect to find it.
The instrumentals on Split Screens sound like a mixture of Bon Iver and Band of Horses, while the drumming and percussion remind me of Pinback. Cafieros’ whispery moan has a very warm and sincere quality to it that complements the music perfectly. His ability to take all these great ideas and sounds, and use them in a way where they exist in absolute harmony with one another is the most impressive thing about the EP. It is also something that is very rare in this day and age of music; the honesty and genuine emotion found not only in his voice but in the instruments themselves, make this a very special collection of songs.
The EP starts off with a single guitar playing a simple little riff and all at once the rest of the instruments kick in and create a warm and inviting atmosphere for the listener. The opener “Born,” accomplishes this with a solid song structure highlighted by the lap steel guitar and keyboard sounds that resemble wind chimes tapping together in a gentle breeze. The album then transitions into “When it Comes to You,” which uses a mellow base line and piano to drive the song along. Then comes the standout of the entire EP. While every song on Split Screens is excellent from start to finish, “Hovering” is one of those songs that will make your toes curl, the hair on the back of your neck stand up and give you goose bumps across your entire body. You can hear the pain in Cafieros’ voice when he sings “you’re still here, here in this room/hovering like a ghost,” while the lap steel howls in the background. It really is a beautiful and touching song that anyone who has ever dealt with heartache can instantly relate to. The EP continues on with “Paying the Price” which uses a recording of a stream in the Catskill Mountains to seamlessly transition from the end of the song into the beginning of the albums closer “Deep Down”. This song is a great choice for the closer because of the big open sound it starts off with and how it eventually fades from cluttered noise into complete silence. It is also the only song on the album that uses any kind of distortion at all. Although, it is a very mellow and crunchy tone of distortion and used more in the background rather than the main focus of the song.
Split Screens self titled debut is an impressive start to what should be an even more impressive career in music for Jesse Cafiero. I look forward to seeing where he goes from here and how he plans to top such a great debut. Whether he continues to create songs under the Split Screens alias or pursue other endeavors, the future looks extremely bright for Mr. Cafiero. I would recommend this album to anyone who enjoys honest, well written music and is looking for something refreshingly creative and captivating to add to their collection.