• Neal Sweeney

Paper Void's 'Transition' - An Album About Our Lives

Updated: Dec 4, 2019



Correction [8/20/19 6PM]: This blog post originally stated that the vocalist for Safekeeping was Hannah Martinson, but it is actually Ella Cooley.


Albums rarely inspire self-reflection me, especially not in 2019. In the world where the sounds of music can fill our ears at every hour of every day, it becomes easy to simply view it as filler, aural stimulation for a restless mind. Perhaps this is the dozens of orchestral soundtrack covers and chill lo-fi hip hop study beats to study to from my Spotify recommendations speaking, but as a consumer I am constantly asking something of the songs I listen to, and not the other way around. One of those Spotify recommendations graced me with Paper Void’s Safekeeping, a track on their 2016 album ‘Increments’, a song that blends hip hop, jazz, and funk into a hypnotic concoction that’s garnished with the contrasting vocal stylings of Alberto Guzman and Ella Cooley. Safekeeping, along with all of ‘Increments’ is a journey in the art of self-cleansing, guiding listeners towards realizations about their own metaphysical existences through dynamic musical compositions that are constantly evolving throughout the course of a seamless album. While I was smitten by the album, I had resigned myself to the fact that it was likely a singular article, never to see a successor or follow-up, merely due to the prior album’s age; recently this was proven wrong.

Spotify reminded me why I pay for premium by surfacing a new album from Paper Void, ‘Transition’, which was released on August 18th. The album is similar in length and format, 10 tracks lasting approximately 35 minutes and blending together, none intended to be cherry-picked as a best hit and played on repeat. The musical arrangements are similar, sporting the same mix of percussion, piano, guitar, and brass instruments that feel just as fresh as before. However Transition does not aim to be Increments all over again, instead its psychedelic sounds are contextualized around different thoughts and ideas, which the album’s title reflects. The album asks questions of our lives and society, more importantly how we as individuals undergo change as we and the world around us evolve. Bookended by an acceptance of the ride to be undergone and a greater question on if any of it will matter, the in-betweens of Transition reflect the various transformations that we as individuals are required to make, viewed through specific lenses. In some instances it is heavy handed, “I was one of the masses on my cell-phone, taking pictures of myself alone, trapped inside the noise of my cell-phone”, but those are the exceptions rather than the rule. There are no doubts that these are personal experiences and emotions presented by the artists, but when assembled in this fashion they’ve combined into a collage that forms a larger picture when viewed as a whole. Instead of creating an album to be enjoyed during the various moments of our lives, ‘Transition’ is about these moments, highlighting them and offering us a chance for introspective reflection with a brilliant music voyage to accompany it.


My train rides aren’t the same as they were last week, time in the office is offset by moments to reflect on the current state of my existence and where it might be heading and my normal Spotify recommendations are going unheard.

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