Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Hyena / Elephant split on Laughable Recordings

Got this split single from Hyena and Elephant in from Greg at Laughable Recordings, who also happens to be a part of both of these projects according to the liner notecard. He mentioned that Mark Fede of Fat History Month! recorded these and the tiny world of seven inches gets smaller by a few degrees.
The A-Side from Hyena starts off with "Prayers on Tape" a quiet background cassette recording slowly makes it's way towards the room instrumentation. The layers of static, a woman talking fast rewound and played on top of each other sets the hushed bedroom recording feel of the track. Tiny pieces of snare, and guitar noodling creeps in through the samples which fade into a restrained acoustic guitar and high register barely audible vocals. The vocals become layered and the composition builds in a vaguely Bright Eyes style, with that exhausting tension, any minute this thing is going to explode, which it absolutely does by the end, a mass of free form percussion and distortion that literally sounds like it continues into the next track, "Yup, the sun is up". Hugely orchestrated and rocking, I'm reminded of the operatic prog style of Sunset Rubdown, there's an amazing amount of dense composition at speed, that has impressive changes with a huge range of emotion, the tiny cracking lyric with a back of the room scream. "Waning Days" is almost a slow country track, just strained vocals and tiny smatterings of electric, a minimal melody built on the strength and direction of this truly unique voice. Belting out a high heartbreaking warble in the middle of the quiet, setting you up as much as possible for the rock ruckus it evolves into that echo's this desperate fight feel of the whole side.

Elephant takes on 4 tracks on the B-side of this one, starting with "Southern Manners". Working in an equally grandiose style, this has all of the density and carnival effort of An Airplane over the sea where it's impossible to dissect what out of this storm is exactly creating the melody. It's a neighborhood VFW hall band at the gazebo, the individual pieces hard panned on separate speakers at points. The vocals are deep and deliberately phrased in the middle of this loose massive sound pot, which overflows into warped string guitars, and falling down the stairs percussion hits. This fades out right into "Wisecracks" which has a trembling organ, acoustic and the deep vocals about fireworks and couches paired up with a high airy vocal from Eve. This one also goes nuts by the end, it's something that I don't think is ever obviously seen for miles. Like Blueberry Boat, it's beginning to feel really like one extended piece, just broken into movements by the natural pauses. "Sand in Your Nails" is eerily quiet, broken chords and slight echo on the vocal... creaking chairs in the background that again can't help but gradually build almost immediately, they're in love with that sweet release of a moment of epic dynamics against the sparse musical landscape.
With "Silent Movie Masterpiece" I'm a little struck by how there aren't any choruses to immediately grab on to, the stream of consciousness storytelling tracks have their own weird rhythms, rising and falling, carefully implemented. I wouldn't be surprised if there was actual sheet music written at some point to keep this straight. A unique country fair ride you've never seen it before, it's probably not safe, but that just makes you get in line faster.

You can check out all the tracks on the labels bandcamp page and then pick this up from Laughable Recordings, an edition of 250 on black vinyl with insert liner notes.

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