Autumn in Halifax - Kites With Broken Strings
Two Way Monologues
A lot of people have a tough time understanding how I can appreciate watching baseball, golf or even (gasp!) curling as much as I do, and I can understand that. The reality is that those activities just move too slowly for the majority of people.
It can be the same way with a movie, like one of my all-time favourites, Waking Life. I find that movie riveting, and to date I still am trying to wrap my head around the intricacies of what it all means. I'd be an idiot to expect everyone to have the patience for that type of movie. And I would be an idiot to expect everyone to have the patience for Autumn in Halifax's record Kites With Broken Strings.
Patience is absolutely crucial to enjoy Autumn in Halifax. There are moments that occur in the album that are absolutely crushing. The music has a way of lulling you into a mesmerized state where it is just you and the music; and then, like a cold bucket of water to the face, an abrupt change in the pacing or volume awakens you. It is just an incredible feeling when music can do that to you. The key is in the build up, or what I referred to as the lull. Rudimentary rules about song lengths are ignored here, and whatever length it takes to satisfactorily complete the song is used instead.
The album title is fascinating, isn't it? Kites With Broken Strings -- what does that mean to you? To me, the one word that comes to mind is potential. A kite with broken strings at is useless; the sole function of a kite cannot be performed without strings. But that doesn't mean it can't regain that potential again and that it hasn't done beautiful things before. Maybe I am completely wrong and the band just named the album what it did because it sounds cool. I hope not. I also like my analysis because it fits well with this music in general. It is only as rewarding as you let it be. A casual listen to songs like "Farewell" just isn't going to cut it.
"Farewell" actually offers the listener a great microcosm for what they going to experience during Kites With Broken Strings. Clocking in at 10:38, it is a slowburn, to say the least. In many ways I am reminded of Raising the Fawn but with a heavier emphasis on folk and more of a hint of fragility in David Merulla's vocals. Repeatedly, Merulla plays this quiet tranquil melody against the rhythmic drums, and the melody has more of an effect on me than most hard rock riffs ever do. When I listen to this song I know that everything will go on hold for ten minutes of my life and I can just let myself get lost into this music. And this, as I am discovering, is the true beauty of the drone style.
For a minute and thirty seconds "Memphis" plods forward as it builds toward something, but the repetition soothes you -- and then it happens and demands that you perk up and listen. Merulla's voice couldn't be described as polished, it has a raw quality that contrasts well with the meticulous thought that goes into the guitar and instrumentation. I wouldn't suggest playing any of these songs at your next social gathering, but in those late artistic, contemplative hours of the night this is the soundtrack that you are craving.
I am asking/encouraging anyone who reads this and would like to share an opinion on what they think the following lyrics mean to post or email and let me know, because I find them utterly fascinating:
"Ghostly coma breaks/the radius of your smiles/when I need them most/Sparkles rival faith/Rivals sparkles truth/Sparkles rival faith/Rivals sparkle truth"
Those lyrics come from "Stinger Glows Relief," another of the many excellent tracks Kites With Broken Strings has to offer. The song is constructed to force the listener to focus on Merulla's voice and those mysteriously beautiful lyrics. In spite of not knowing precisely what the lyrics mean, the sadness or despair in this song is still bordering on overwhelming.
And it doesn't end with the three songs I mentioned. On their own these songs are decent, but as a whole the album is a more powerful and rewarding experience. The learning curve is higher, so you make the call. The flavour of the month or something that you won't be sick of this time in July? That is up to you.
Songs to hear: As your attorney, I'd advise listening to the entire album. (Fear and Loathing reference, for those who just decided that I am crazy.) SCORE: 8.5