“Welcome To The Night Sky” – ‘Wintersleep’ & “L’ile De Sept Villes” – ‘The Hylozoists’
I was frothing at the mouth last week when I mentioned something about “… I can see a sacrificial pyre in the distance, burning brightly…” when only yesterday, after a good wander, I found it was only just the kindling to an American Redwood felled in my honor, called “homework”. Rope wound from the hairs of a thousand angels, ready to be strapped across my oiled body; to make the burning process all that much better.
“Well, it was either this, or be tarred and feathered. I asked for some Dodo feathers, but they were all out – so they decided this would be better. Hey! They even said they’d burn some Camphor wood to mask the horrible smell of burning hair…” The Enantiomorphic God shouts aloud, voodoo-cultists encircling.
Nonetheless, I write this now, on the eve of the weekend, and my impending doom. It has been a struggle to find decent albums worth reviewing for you guys. And I’ve tried to include two reasonable bands – I’ve learnt my lesson: never review a band not worth reviewing. Let that be an axiom for Highly Evolved. And despite all of this, here are two that might be worth your while:
My partner recently introduced me to a fantastic music resource which I’ve been using frequently in my reviews, just to give you some overall statistics and background-information. And I’ll just reiterate that page, it’s www.last.fm, and it has just about every artist that you could ever imagine. Info, links, upcoming gigs, tours, etc. And ‘Wintersleep’, strangely, are a band that’s slipped through the fingers of mainstream, making it onto the list of fantastic ‘Canadian artists’, up there with ‘Arcade Fire’. And the album, although it dates back two years, should be a memorable one for fans, and new arrivals.
“Dude, two years ago – I can’t remember that far back, man…” foolish Dude One states.
“Two years ago, was like,” foolish Dude Two holds his fingers in the air frustratedly, “was like four ice-ages, man. It’s back there with the mammoths!”
“Fool! You’re thinking about leap years…”
Yes. I imagine it’s a little difficult to think that far back, what with all the booze, the drugs, the parties, the work, and life in general. But damn well try anyways, people – ‘Wintersleep’ are a band I’ve overlooked, and am sorely paying penance for. It’s indie with a heavy rock-influence. So I suppose they really do belong in rock. Music-wise, I can’t really compare them to a band I’ve found recently – you could say ‘Arcade Fire’, but they’re not quite close. I said that they were Canadian, but not that they hail from Halifax, Nova Scotia, grouped far back in ’01. Composed of, and I’ll quote: “Loel Campbell [drums], Paul Murphy [guitar/vocals], Tim D’Eon [guitar/keyboards], Mike Bigelow [keyboards for ’05, ’06/bass guitar, Jon Samuel [keyboards/backing vocals/guitar] and former member Jud Haynes [bass].” When the vocals get rolling, there’s a strange familiarity that I couldn’t quite put my finger on – I determined that the best suitable candidates for similarity were that of ‘Interpol’s’ lead and ‘Powderfinger’s’, a general mix of both, with varying degrees of success.
From the top: an album must have the first impression, and “Welcome To The Night Sky” opens with percussion and guitar in “Drunk On Aluminium”– all the titles have these bizarre names, and they work just the same way. And that impression? Fantastic, my favourite – when the lyrics kick in, they take the lead. This is definitely a band about the lyrics, with the music reinforcing it. Keyboards introduce the words: “Oh my, are you the beast again, is it the violence you like? Oh My…” and at this utterance, if ‘Wintersleep’ haven’t got you hooked, the Bonanza-like guitar following will have you air-horse-riding near the end. It finishes as it began, with the soft lyrics, the emphatic voice, the boldness of “Aluminium” [which the ‘yanks’ pronounce as Alu-mi-num] puts you all weird and funny inside.
“Dead Letter & The Infinite Yes”, ‘Wintersleep’s’ third track, can and probably will be mistaken for a lost ‘Powderfinger’ track. I’m not a huge fan of the big ‘P’, but over here in Australia, saying things like that can get you shot. Hence my pseudonym. It’s got that classic electric guitar, tied with percussion, and dual-vocals that will have you tearing out your hair in confusion. It picks up after this with some acoustic guitar and claps in “Weighty Ghost” who apparently “… forgot to float away.” It has an upbeat quality that will have you singing “Oh, have you seen my ghost?”
“Goddamn it, man – you should get that thing checked out. That’s not healthy,” foolish Dude Two withdraws.
“… Look at it giggle!”
“Oh, man. Put it away, put it away!”
Anyways, I’ll finish up “Welcome To The Night Sky” with the sixth track “Search Party”, which is probably the best example on the entire album for ‘Wintersleep’s’ ability to get close and personal with their listeners. Their vocals and lyrics are some of the best I’ve heard all year, and they’re full of emotion. It’s hard to escape the singularity of which it creates. Defenitely a buy, but for a price – 10-$15 maximum; if you see it, you’ll enjoy it, and on a rainy day come back to it. I think a modest three big ‘P’s’ outta five should do the trick.
Check their myspace page for further details and samples at: http://www.myspace.com/wintersleep
There’s usually a link between the two albums that I review, and on a regular basis it’s usually genre. But, seeing as this week’s music choice was slim pickings, I had to go with what I could get. And what a find, it was like, like, finding an extra gherkin inside my cheeseburger. Usually there’s only four, but now there’s five!
“They’re the green ones, right?” Foolish Dude One asks.
“I think so – I never heard of a cow-tree, or cheese-tree for that matter; there’s bound to be a gherkin-tree. Hey, suppose – where do you think the cheese comes from?” Foolish Dude Two replies, and then postulates.
“The cow, dummy…”
Foolish Dude One motions foolish Dude Two closer, and closer, and slaps him across the face.
Last.fm has seemed somewhat fruitless with these guys in comparison with ‘Wintersleep’ [a paltry score of 37,000 next to ‘Wintersleeps’ mil+]. ‘The Hylozoists’, interestingly named from a Greek philosophical word meaning: “that all matter holds life”, formed back in the naughties , founded by Paul Aucoin, and released their debut album in the following years, entitled “La Nouvelle Gauche” [’02]. Released in February of this year, ‘The Hylozoists’ have been compared to ‘Tortoise’, which I think is drastically overrated. ‘Tortoise’, in my eyes, aren’t even close to the musical qualities of ‘TH’. But here it is: “L’ile Sept De Villes”, an instrumental-post-rock influenced album, that features strongly xylophone and violin.
Its opening track, “The Possibility Of An Island”, is deceptively post-rock. Its ambience is nothing like the rest of the album, and when ‘TH’ wants to flaunt it, they’re ‘guns blazing’ elsewhere with other musical talents that relate more to alternative[almost]. Purely synth, the mechanical-violin guides you through the waves, and onto that island [the second track] called “Bras D’Or Lakes”. Here we have piano, instead of percussion, keeping the beat, with a dancing xylophone, and a timid violin. It builds and builds and builds until it reaches the chorus of synth; very eighties in style, I would liken it to ‘The Alan Parsons Project’ – whom remain the gatekeepers for post-rock, in my eyes. If you’ve listened to their album “I, Robot” – their best, as I see it – then you’ll understand where I’m coming from. It’s got all those same qualities, minus the lyrics.
“I AM THE GATEKEEPER!” an eight-foot-tall man shouts, appearing miraculously ahead of the Foolish Dudes.
“Shit, it’s Alan Parsons! Run for it, dude!”
“… Shh… I’ve seen it in a film before,” foolish Dude One hesitates: “I AM THE KEYMASTER!”
“YOU DWEEB! YOU INFINITESIMALLY SMALL MORTALS SHALL FEEL THE WRATH OF ‘ALAN PARSONS’! MUAHAHAHAHA…”
“Bubbles & Wheezy” alongside “Dark Scene Waltz” feature the heavy use of a xylophone, which seems to be the lead instrument when the violin is silent. These two instruments switch appropriately and give each other a fair share, allowing for a change of mood from each song. Tracks usually involving the xylophone as a lead are generally more upbeat, whilst those with the violin are darker, more emotive – as is appropriate for such.
“Parents Don’t Let Your Children Grow Up To Be Compressed” is the seventh track for the album, and has to be my favourite. The epic-use of the violin is in itself accompanied by all the instruments for reinforcement. In my eyes, this grand-appeal is better placed as a final track. It has the whiny-attitude about it that would suit it better as last. Instead, “Soixante Sept” features in its place, and ‘TH’experiment with the human voice as an instrument – a piece of dialogue in relation to something regarding Canadian politics, I suspect. I don’t know why, but the trumpet is somewhat sci-fi-esque – I’ve probably watched too much Star Trek, though. It is a nice touch, but it clashes somewhat with the violin.
When it comes down to value for money, ‘The Hylozoists’ pull out all the stops. “L’ile De Sept Villes” is like finding a deserted island in the South Pacific, with a band, and then listening to it. It’s a holiday from the rest, and that’s why you should find yourself relaxed. I’d say about 10-$15 again, it grows on you – and a three-and-a-half big ‘P’s’ outta five is more than generous.
Check out their page on myspace for further info and samples at: http://www.myspace.com/hylozoists
Safely under pseudonym, The Enantiomorphic God