Monday, July 02, 2012
TWI THE HUMBLE FEATHER Music For Spaceships And Forests
Here’s an odd one: a record containing a song which reached a worldwide audience of 90 million three years ago, only getting a UK release without fanfare this year. This 2009 release by Twi The Humble Feather – lost somewhere between an EP and an LP at five tracks and a twenty five minute running time - finally has a proper UK release via Million Records, possibly with vinyl to follow later this year. Some records may have dated given even a few years’ lapse but for many reasons ‘Music For Spaceships and Forests’ feels timeless.
The New York band – a trio formed by cousins Anthony Lebron and Hector Fontanez – use acoustic guitars and wordless chants to create astral chamber-folk that lies somewhere between the contemporary classical minimalism of Reich and Pärt and the playful globe-trotting excursions of Penguin Cafe Orchestra. I’m also reminded of the pastoral post-folk of Tim and Sam’s Tim and The Sam Band ‘Lifestream’ album or the late 90s coterie of metronomic post-rockers like Appliance or Rothko.
However “Music For Spaceships And Forests” never settles into a motorik groove as demonstrated on opening song ‘Higher Than The End’ (the one that reached that worldwide audience through its unlikely inclusion in a Heineken ad during Super Bowl XLIII). There’s a tightly sprung tension to the individual plucked guitar strings but the overlaying of textures, percussive effects from scraping strings and the shifting patterns and pace within each song are restlessly inventive and uplifting. Despite the use of repeated motifs in short sections, the music is almost anti-motorik in its many and seemingly capricious shifts. The unintelligible chanting in each song is equally celebratory and varied – mainly falsetto mantra-like intoning but sometimes stern basso profondo as found in the ten-minute title track. It’s difficult to credit but by all accounts everything found on record comes purely from acoustic guitar or human voice, no electronic processing, overdubs or additional instrumentation.
In the same way these wordless (excepting the odd phrase like “fall down” in ‘Adventures Of Castle One’) songs are not instrumentals, the five tracks are best not regarded as songs. Instead think of the whole piece as a suite of five movements - some two minutes long, some ten minutes – to become lost in, a delicate celestial rhapsody. I’m late to catch up with the playful enchantment of Twi The Humble Feather but thankful in doing so their music is not synonymous with a Dutch beer or an American obsession. "Music For Spaceships And Forests" taps into something deeper, more ageless and more otherworldly than such earthbound concerns.
Twi The Humble Feather Music For Spaceships and Forests [BUY]