Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Yeasayer - All Hour Cymbals

If I’d a told you ten years ago that archaic musical motifs such as psychedelia and folk would be heavily en vogue come the new millennium- that the dictators of cool near and far would be heralding the rightful ascension of said motifs aesthetic greatness from every mountain top- you most likely would have dismissed me. And if I’d a said that the epicenter of this revival would be Brooklyn NY, you’d a thought I’d gone ‘round the bend. And yet here we are. Fads are cyclical, just ask anyone with in a pair of skinny jeans, Nike's and a flannel shirt.

All Hour Cymbals is an amalgamation of bygone sounds; 1 part prog-rock, 2 parts world music , 1 part psychedelia. Overall very new age-y.

The theme of many of these songs is futurist or (post)apocalyptic— 2080 for instance begins with the cheerful line; ‘I cant sleep when I think about the times we’re living in/ I can’t sleep when I think about the future I was born into”. This is quite ironic, possibly intentionally so; as, save for the production, All Hour Cymbals would have sounded right at home in late 60’s or early 70’s. Chock full of, jangly guitars, mandolins, and proggy synths; the debt here to ELO, early Pink Floyd and even Yes is obvious. Crashing symbols, wood blocks, tambourines, and shakers along with subdued back beats give the rhythms a drum circle vibe. And the chants of Anand Walker (keyboard), Ira Wolf Tuton (guitars), Chris Keating (bass) and Luke Fasano (drums), who all provide vocals, give the whole thing a vaguely religious feel- but more in an obscure, pagans-with-crystals sense than any of the mainstream faiths.

Sunrise, the opener and first single, starts things out proper with harmonized almost gospel sounding vocals, hand claps and Gothic keyboard stabs. The album continues with the aforementioned future dread of 2080 and Final Path; the buzzing almost wanky guitars of No Need to Worry; and the plodding, middle-eastern tinged Wait for the Wintertime; ending on an optimistic note with the sitar laden Red Cave which features lots of swirling harmonies and lyrics about how lucky they are to have so many friends.

By all accounts I should categorically hate this kind of music and yet I find it strangely hypnotic, meriting repeat listens. Go figure, fads are cyclical.

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