(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Friday, October 8, 2010

CD review - Grandchildren, Everlasting (2010)

Dreamy, open musical arrangements are infected as complex polyrhythms go viral. Grandchildren build their experimental pop music upon this contrasting balance. It's harmonic, with odd breaks, off beat song structures, and a frantic edge of syncopation. The closest comparisons would be Animal Collective or Freelance Whales, but the Grandchildren seem to be listening to a hundred different drummers.

Through the course of Everlasting, Grandchildren vary the formula a little, with the second half being more accessible, but the experimental nature never fades completely. The first song making the rounds on the net, Saturn Returns, is a dreamy rush. It's richly layered, with a shifting balance between foreground and background. The foreground has the ticking rhythm and supporting music, while the background is filled with distant sounding vocals and washes of sound. It see saws between tension and an open feel. Eventually, it collapses into a spacey finish.

OK, I'm Waiting is also relatively accessible. It has a similarly rich layering, but the parts are a little sparser. The intro creates a Pink Floyd interplay between distant tones and a slide guitar in the foreground, which is overtaken by a kalimba (African thumb piano) rhythm. Then it settles into a slinky groove based on a reflective melodic line and the ever-present percussion.

Other songs like Little Big Ones and Anthill veer toward a jazzy, progressive sound. All in all, I preferred these and the other more accessible tracks to the outside sounds of songs like Cold Warrior or Heartbreaker. Despite this, the collection holds together well. Everlasting is an album well suited to act as an iPod soundtrack to normal life, where the polyrhythms will find echoes in the environment. Sip a sweet Turkish coffee as you listen.

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