Sunday, February 24, 2008

Boxhead Ensemble - two brothers (2001)

Michael Krassner assembled yet another version of the Boxhead Ensemble to record the amazing Two Brothers.

"From This Point Onward" (11 minutes) is an abstract chamber-requiem as performed by a fusion band. The instrumental interplay often gets discordant within the track, but is then covered up by the resigned melancholia of Jessica Billey's violin in particular. The sleepy pace recalls slowcore, the tight improvisation recalls jazz, while the austere nature recalls chamber music.

The most epic is "Two Brothers" (18 minutes) which starts as a Slavic folk-theme adapted to the slowcore sensibility, over which further guitar is deployed in Fahey-ian landscapes and dissonant picking. To add to the intensity, electronic effects cast further dejection and disharmony to the lonely and ghostly scenery of the track.

"Requiem" (10 minutes) features a prominent melody which the band exploits at will, covering an extensive range of moods as the track progresses, from majestic, to mournful, to romantic, to tragic, to playful, to introspective etc. "Come Again No More" is perhaps the most impressive, with the strings radiating their unearthly energy in what at times appears to be a cacophonous sea of sound, and at times a soaring ultraviolet hymn.

Yet despite the epic length of these tracks, one shouldn't neglect the humble 3 minutes of "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" (a sad winter meditation, with the radiant strings giving it an almost demonic tone in the end), the suspenseful 4 minutes of "The Half-Light" (a desolate jam with tense horns, metallic percussion and haunted electronic effects), and the 3 minutes of "Sba" (echoes of a faint contemplation amidst a cursed landscape).

Get it here.

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