On his Facebook page, Jacob Augustine describes his new EP “Bikini Island” as his “most out of body experimental jaunt into possible sonic embarrassment yet.”

The tracks were written during the same sessions that produced his 2011 album “The Original Love,” and while the songs are certainly more experimental than those on the full-length, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would be embarrassed by work like this.

“Bikini Island” is an affecting, arresting release, one of those rare pieces of musical art that stays with you long after the last note has faded and your speakers have grown silent.

The instrumentation on the EP is sparse, dominated by acoustic guitar, tambourine and the occasional drum sample. Subtle backing vocals add texture and depth, and judiciously employed electric guitars add a little extra weight when needed.

The stand-out instrument is Augustine’s voice, which slides effortlessly from the gruff bark of a Pentecostal preacher to a poignant, heart-wrenching falsetto, sometimes within the space of a single song.

The centerpiece is the nine-minute-long track “Bikini.” Augustine expertly conjures a sense of foreboding right from the get-go, with a lonely, bluesy harmonica and a lightly plucked acoustic guitar accompanying his mournful and trembling falsetto, making the song at first sound like a great lost track from the Anthology of American Folk Music.

At the halfway point, the clean ring of an undistorted electric guitar takes the song in a completely new direction. As the guitars become distorted, a steady, pounding, single drum beat propels the song ever upward, borne aloft on a bed of choir-like backing vocals.

When the song finally reaches its crescendo, instruments are faded out one by one, until all that’s left are the sad, solitary notes of a single, sorrowful guitar.

A thrilling ride from start to finish, “Bikini” alone would earn the EP a four-star rating. Fortunately for the listener, there are three other tracks just as good.

One can only hope that Augustine is hard at work on a full-length album. If “Bikini Island” is any indication of things to come, the next release should be nothing short of stunning.

The only way to purchase “Bikini Island” is by downloading it at jacobaugustine.band camp.com/album/bikini-island.

The tracks are available at a name-your-own-price option. I’d recommend paying whatever you’d normally pay for any other full-length album.

It will be money well spent.

Rick Johnson is a freelance writer and radio host from Westbrook. He can be reached at:

[email protected]

 

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