Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Cassette Review: Scallion/Br'er split

Which element of this small, wondrous cassette to tackle first is a bit tricky. The physical cassette itself is a good place to start. When the cassette finally arrives in the ail, you instantly get the sense of how his won't be the typical fare in any single way. The cassette is contained in a handmade sleeve: hand drawn, painted, and numbered. Even the J-card is personal, a cut of cloth with all the cassette's information hand written in pen. The packaging itself is a mini presentation to what is inside.

Scallion is what the microphones sound like covered by the Music Tapes if they listened to more chamber-pop. Over six tracks (each side is basically a mini album), band mastermind Darian Scatton's mild falsetto guides these prose filled tracks over their darker/sadder undertones. A cool and distant sense of nature (see the cover art)is invoked a lot in the songs to set the stage for the tales of pain and loss. Also uses of singing saws, chiming piano, and varied percussion styles also add to the tones for the songs. No one song really personifies Scallion as they can jump from old timey-esque Parenthetical Girls ("Our Breadth was Wide") to hollow, utterly lost to the void ("The Bird is Missing"), sometimes in the same song ("Tungsten Burner"). Taken as a whole though, a better, more accurate picture of the nuanced music Scallion makes becomes clear.

Br'er comes from a much more obtuse world, however. As a wave of synth feedback pours out of the speaker at the very first moment of "Cold", the same feelings and tones that were touched on by Scallion are here, but channelled very differently. While taking heavy cues from Xiu Xiu and a bit of something else that can't be placed, Br'er and their music is more a melting pot where no element or sound is really rejected, but instead utilized in someway. "Emphatic Glee" showcases this wonderfully; simple, crooked guitar lines are placed next to the vocals, while what can only be pots and pans serve as percussion in the background. Then the guitar morphs into a driving synth line as the drums come in as well, all the while the earlier parts of the song come in and out at will. Elsewhere there is the askew, slightly evil pop of "Heavenly" existing with something like the pour vocal track "Riverside Romance". It's strange, tense, and yet a stellar example of music being used as a form of art.

(mp3) Scallion-Our Breadth was Wide
(mp3) Br'er-Heavenly


Scallion's Webpage
Br'er's Website
Buy the cassette here, from Edible Onion

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