The artist(s) behind The Prophet Nathan, in the past, have changed like the guitarmonies weaving in and out of their songs. First, TPN was a solo project of guitarist/vocalist James Oliva, then a full-band version, which ultimately whittled back down to its original member plus Charlie Hareford.
This year, two recordings have come out of the band—an EP last spring titled 1.414 to 1 and a two-track summer release called Solomon. Though some form of TPN has been around for years, you don’t need to hear the entire discography to appreciate the simplicity and highly influenced appeal of 1.414 to 1 and Solomon, which both could be part of the same album.
There are countless guitarists who’ve built their sound on crafting ambient melodies and pushing them through a rock lens, and The Prophet Nathan’s two EPs are crawling with their influence—the echoings of Incubus; the distinct, airy chords of Pinback; the lackadaisical nature of Pink Floyd; the twee, shiny melodies of Minus the Bear.
Oliva’s vocals are barely rough and soothing; he pulls a Pink Floyd on “9 Gates and the Kingdom of Shadows.” “Watch them spin/I’ll pull you in,” he sings in the same tempting tone as Roger Waters on “Comfortably Numb.”
Guitars bubble, almost aimlessly but not quite, over rolling drums. Deep notes burrow in thick ambiance, and Oliva scatters in morbid speculations and commands: “Dig a grave for me and you/leave plenty of room for everyone else” in “The Philosopher’s Stone.” It’s loose and methodical at the same time—both an art and a science. If you focus in on one melody and try to follow it through the entire track, it’s easy to get lost in the sound.