Monday, June 4, 2012

Music: Forrest Bride "Cats with Wings" LP

The centerpieces of this album are the instrumental tracks that open both sides. but there are vocal numbers too:

"Blue Tiger" is the most "pretty" track, vague pentatonic melody that Amy Marcantel's vocal harmonies fill out well, plus lifted moving-bass. Probably the best of the sung tracks. Next "Massacre at Ludlow" is pretty good Radiohead-pastiche but Ben Marcantel's singing is unfortunately muffled by gear affects that squash out the overtones of his voice. "String and Glue", lyrically, is as "twee" as the title implies, but the instruments are "gussied up" the way Adrian Belew "gussied up" Tom Tom Club's "Loreleai", all stuttering atonality and sound-effects, with a little more Folk-feel.

But the meticulously crafted instrumental tracks are where the Marcantels' strengths really lie. "Circa 1973", the sound collage that opens the album is wonderful, gradually building from skuttling noise loops into a two-piano Cosmic-assault with out ever feeling like it's "building" at all. This morphs, briefly, into a feminine kind of Fantasy-Simple xylophone interlude, before Scott Martin's drums first introduce themselves under cut-and-paste organ and slow-attack synth, interupted by these violin upper-cuts just before the denouement, real "feminine "narrative" kind of stuff that lacks an obviously climax but substitutes lots of little peaks in circular fashion.

Marcantel's production is great: it never sounds showy, (except maybe once on Side B where I noticed a tom-tom annoyingly drifting across the stero-spectrum,) but it's meticulous.

Side B's "Death Kit" is the first time the album ever really sounds at all like the "electric era Miles" suggested on the little paper insert that comes with the record. It's more like metal-fusion though; Scott Martin's drumming is especially unhinged with an insistent single-note bass line that charges everything into some super-charged future-war, saxophones wounded-wail, dissonant synthesizers buzz along and melt, and all the sudden there's this lifted lilting piano chord like "walk towards the light" type thing, but still, a glimpse of  the past as evil saxes dance back in, filtered and fading.

Closer, "Living Coral" has a dinstinctly M.O.R.-jazz deep-cut vibe like something on Side 4 of a mid-70's Chicago album, which is pretty fantastic if you ask me. It's interupted occasionally by buzzy angular asides on the organ, but for the most part it's lush and tacitly sensual.

Pretty well constructed album. Cover art is an owl, which I guess is what they mean by "Cat with Wings", probably because of the seing in the dark. Sebastian Speaks label. Approx. $12 at local retailers. Recomended!

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