Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Anathallo - Floating World

I can't really say enough great things about Anathallo. I've said this time and again, but it always bears repeating: Anathallo is one of the most creative bands around today, and it's nothing short of criminal that more people are not aware of them and their music.
Hopefully, that is about to change.
For their latest album, Floating World, Anathallo dropped off Selah, their original label, and signed with Artist Friendship. And just like, they have nationwide distribution.
And it's about time. After years of toiling away in the underground, people are finally starting to sit up and take notice of this group from central Michigan. They've been touring the country for years, playing any and all shows that they can get their grubby little hands on. Everyone who has ever seen an Anathallo show can tell you it's an experience unlike any other. Anything and everything is an instrument. The horn section will throw down their horns in order to beat on massive bass drums, lead pipes, chains, or anything else currently on stage. Screaming, stomping, clapping, singing in unison...nothing is off limits for them.
And, for once, a band translates their live instensity to an album. Not completely, mind you (because that's close to impossible, even for an actual live album), but as close as you're ever apt to find (this side of The Hojos, that is).
And it works remarkably well.
You're never quite sure what to expect. A song can go from delicate singing over a beautiful finger-picked guitar park to a chaotic explosion of chains, horns and drums that would make Tom Waits proud...all in the span of a couple of seconds. Time signatures will change in the blink of an eye. And it all works. Not a single bit of it seems forced.
The album itself focuses on 4 songs: "Hanasakajiji" parts 1-4. These songs are a retelling of an old Japanese folktale. I won't go into a plot summary here...there's one printed in the liner notes. It's a beautiful, sad, and confusing story. I will say that much. Along with being the centerpieces of this album, these 4 songs are also the albums best moments. I guess it kind of makes sense if you think about it.
I can't begin to describe their overall sound to you. It's darn near impossible. You can't really peg them down to one particular descripter. They don't follow a standard musical path or songwriting structure. It's just one of those bands you have to check out for youself. And, if I were you, I would do so now rather than later.

Rating: 9.2/10

Essential Tracks: "Hoodwink", "Dokkoise House (With Face Covered)"

Favorite Tracks: "Hanasakajiji (Four: A Great Wind More Ash)", "Hanasakajiji (One: The Angry Neighbor)", "Hanasakajiji (Two: Floating World)", "Hanasakajiji (Three: The Man Who Made Dead Trees Bloom)"

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