Friday, October 31, 2008

I stumbled upon this article about double albums in the Guardian right before I interviewed John Cobbett of Hammers of Misfortune this afternoon. The new Hammers release (out this week on Profound Lore) is a double too. Although I can discern a theme in the artwork and lyrics for each half of the album, I wouldn't call it a concept album à la The Lamb... or The Wall. As the band themselves say, it's more like a split release with themselves.

I reviewed it for the last issue of Unrestrained!, so I won't rehash that here. Listening to it again now, I hear a lot of Blue Oyster Cult and Heep in it, along with the expected Lizzyness and Maidenisms. The singing throughout is also amazing, considering the tossed-off grunting that a lot of metal bands proffer. They've clearly put a ton of work crafting melodies and harmonies to carry the songs along. Hammers of Misfortune are doing remarkable things on a shoestring, and have earned the right to unleash a double LP. It's well worth forking out for.

You might also want to read this post on their blog for some defiant, inspiring words.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Anekdoten—A Time of Day (Virta)
The latest Anekdoten album contains a golden moment in the form of a jarring musical event that almost made me fall off my chair the first time I heard it. This moment occurs during the album’s second track, “30 Pieces,” a jagged waltz that gets more and more intense, building up to a crazed unison passage before releasing, suddenly and gloriously, into…a flute solo. And not just a flute solo, but a flute solo introduced by an almighty whack from a vibra-slap. Two good things that go great together. I believe the band were trying to kill me with coolness.
A lot of fans still cling to Anekdoten’s earlier albums, where their King Crimson influences were more blatant, but over the course of five studio full-lengths they’ve refined that style to become very much their own thing, and that thing is still compelling to me. Their sound is anchored by Anna Sofi-Dahlberg’s vintage-sounding keyboards and the raspy, stealthy bass lines of Jan Erik Liljeström, both of them combining to infuse the songs with overarching melancholy. The songs themselves are pretty economical by prog standards. Never ones to solo at any length, Anekdoten prefer to steer verse/chorus structures towards mini-instrumentals before returning to a previously established part. It’s often these detours that produce the most thrilling, dark moments, such as the monolithic riff that erupts in the midst of “A Sky About to Rain” or the ethereal drone section that bisects “Prince of the Ocean.” Sometimes I think I should change the name of this blog, because music by bands like Anekdoten is such an effortless pleasure. Whatever further refinements they make to their material in the future, as long as they retain their solid songwriting and—most importantly—their sound, I’ll be listening.

Friday, October 24, 2008

I've never actually tried concocting recreational hallucinogens (those long DIY articles in Flipside involving morning glory seeds, acetone, and cold medicines always sounded to me like a surefire route to brain damage and/or third-degree burns) but I happened upon an effective recipe last Wednesday night.

1. Come home unexpectedly tired after having downed a couple pints at a book launch.
2. Lie on couch, close eyes, and drift in and out of consciousness while this album is playing:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Recent activity...

Missing: Sigur Ros, October 7 at the Chan Centre.