The number of things Deep Elm Records has been over the past 21 years is impressive: an upstart label of emo bands before they were cool, the premier emo label in the world, an elite indie-rock label, the source for some of the finest post-rock in the game, and now a hub of dramatic piano-led music (and some dramatic acoustic-guitar-led folk-rock, too). Their last incarnation stems from their continued support of the great Carly Comando and the new signing of Inward Oceans, a “post-rock” trio that spends most of its time working its magic on a single piano.
There are moments of full-band development to augment the sonorous sound (“Homecoming,” “Amelioration,” “Fields of White”), but the majority of the sounds on Paths from Home are intricate, slowly-unfolding single note patterns that tend toward the left end of the keyboard (like “Consequences”). This creates a full, round sound that maximizes the melodic lines of the tunes instead of cluttering it with high-pitched trills or other development. Even when there is more of a post-rock arrangement around a tune, the arrangement tends to be atmospheric and mood-building (“A Road Inside,” “Fields of White”) than creating soft-loud transitions (although “Homecoming” and to a lesser extent “Fields of White” do employ kit drums to this effect). The pieces here are calming and pensive–not melancholy, exactly, nor as enthusiastic as Comando’s work. Instead, Inward Oceans is exploring mid-tempo beauty, moving closer to modern/contemporary classical work in comparison than post-rock. The focus is on beauty, and they succeed with Paths from Home.