<My selection for the week is largely based on things I have been sent, or albums I missed at the arse end of last year (Evangelista). I was hoping to have something more insightful than simply selecting a favourite, but have annoyingly had my time eroded by various concerns. In the spirit of honesty, I thought it better to post than avoid. Next week, when my schedule is clearer I'm going to mention something about my formative musical experiences, how they have occupied specific mental and physical spaces, and how the memory of which obviously informs present choices and continuing bias.
Pantha Du Prince – Black Noise
Thee Silver Mount Zion Memorial Orchestra
– Kollaps Tradixionales
Evangelista – Prince of Truth
Owen Pallett – Heartland
Beach House – Teen Dream
My choice of album of the week is going to be Owen Pallett’s Heartland. This choice is largely the product of it being an amazing undertaking, the sort of album where I struggle to understand how one person could not only have had this in his head but also worked with so many people to edit and produce it to near perfection (credits to Rusty Santos and the Czech National Orchestra). One review mentioned a crossover between Andrew Bird and Neil Hannon, which I can definitely see. The vocal has that flavour to it, and the subject matter (a violent fictional farmer) is pretty left-field. The arrangements are clever, and occasionally amusing in that way where you laugh but aren’t 100% sure why the sound combinations are funny. Overall, it’s just a very enjoyable record fully of impressive twists and informed orchestration as you’d expect; with violins gradually falling apart, the occasional burst of brass from the gloom. Having said that, it’s not that easy to get in to, but is certainly worth the effort. I expect to see it on top ten lists at the end of the year.
The other reason for picking it is because the other albums sort of corralled me in that direction. Black Noise is lush, in the non-slang meaning of that word, the production (which seems to be an obsession
for me with electronic musicians) is crisp and uncluttered. It sounds beautiful…but isn’t in the same league as This Bliss. Not that I expected much of a departure, but I still wanted a little more than refinement on its own. Teen Dream was equally pretty, but will perhaps be damaged by those suggesting Beach House are ‘doing an Animal Collective’ this year. I’m not certain if this is meant as a compliment. As I recall as many people hated Merriweather as liked it. Teen Dream just sounds a little inconsequential to me, coming after Heartland. Perhaps I should have listened in a different order?
Finally, ASMZ and Evangelista continue that trademark Constellation sound tradition. Prince of Truth is a good follow on from Hello Voyager (Crack Teeth being a particular highlight for me), but the nature of the production means it sounds a little too samey. Again, I think this is the Owen Pallett after-effect talking, as on any other day I’d probably have listed it in a different order, but there we go…I can but judge in the moment, as hypocritical and ill-informed as that makes me. ASMZ fall in to the same camp in this respect, as Efrim’s ordering, FX choices & instrumentation remains stoic, the songs failing to pull away from the presumptions I have developed about where-the-songs-are -going over the past 2 ASMZ records. Live performance is a different matter; having seen them a few years back at The Scala in London, I urge people to go out and have a listen during their brief European adventure. Tickets via ATP website I think. I’m guessing the songs on here will spring to life in a live setting, in much the same way that they did on This Is Our Punk Rock when I saw them…it seems odd that the new album acts as a sort of introduction to the performance and not the other way round, but there we go.