Vic Chesnutt and Elf Power


Legendary songwriter Vic Chesnutt teams with Elephant 6 psychsters Elf Power
for a daunting sum of a record recalling the sounds of John Cale, Lou Reed
and Nick Lowe.


September 10th, 2008


A tuneful collision of Athens institutions finds fruition this fall when
Orange Twin releases Vic Chesnutt’s collaboration with Elephant 6 psychsters
Elf Power, Dark Developments. As intriguing as this combination may seem
for hardcore fans of either act, the final sonic results reveal a daunting
sum much greater than even the involvement of such esteemed parts would
imply. The Elves’ lived-in dexterity as a live band goads Vic’s vocal
delivery to a menacing new muscularity, imbuing this batch of songs with a
sinister vibe not dissimilar to John Cale’s black classic Fear, the harsh,
articulate sleaze of Lou Reed’s Street Hassle or the defeated low key
soul-music of Nick Lowe’s last few records. As useful as these
benchmark-records are in identifying Dark Developments’ own unique spirit,
this record truly stands on its own as a brilliant statement, a classic
addition to Athens’ legendary pantheon, and, most importantly, as an organic
meeting of two separately-evolved and vital musical entities that never
feels forced, flashy or false. This is an important album endemic of a
natural partnership, and a great way to spend an afternoon.


Vic Chesnutt’s songwriting retains its trademark literary bent, as a tune
like "Stop The Horse," or the withered gallows-stroll of "The Mad Passion of
The Stoic" flash the narrative weight, sturdy construction and lexical
mystery of a long lost Raymond Carver story. And Chesnutt can still woo you
with the odd, beautiful chord-change, the compelling melody and the strange
sonic turn in the road. Album opener "Mystery," moves from a desperately
wordless lullaby into a torchy, fragile folk-waltz and back again in about
three minutes time, all the while supporting an intuitive rumination on loss
and the passage of time. There’s a reggae stutter buried in the bridges
and verses of "Teddy Bear," an oddball keyboard vamp suturing them all
together, and a chorus of strange beheaded whispers orbiting just outside
the elemental and poignant refrain: "He ain’t never comin’ back." Again,
this all transpires within the pop-sanctioned three-minute borderline, and
the song stands as a totem for just how action-packed this record is on all


Recorded over the course of a winter by Vic and Derek Almstead in Chesnutt’s
own attic studio, Dark Developments revels in the intimate, home-recorded
atmosphere you’d expect from an Athenian union like this. And Elf Power
sounds characteristically powerful in this setting: there’s the crack rhythm
section of Almstead and Josh Lott (making his final appearance as an Elf) to
anchor the affair, the subtle and tremulous interplay of guitarists Andrew
Reiger and Jimmy Hughes, and the esoteric whimsy supplied by Laura Carter’s
improvisational Moog and accordion. Indeed, the band’s famously-honed
instincts and Day-Glo pop-smarts provide the contradictory musical notions
that never allow the album to sway too far in one bleak direction or
another: it’s that friction extant between Chesnutt’s shadowy worldview and
the inventive bounce and bray of Elf Power’s euphonious intra-band chemistry
that buoys Dark Developments, provides its freshness, and makes for
rewarding repeated listening.


If you are in South America this month, be sure to see Vic Chesnutt and Elf
Power performing together live on their nine-day tour of Spain. An
announcement of US dates is forthcoming.
Vic Chesnutt, Elf Power, and The Amorphous Strums
Dark Developments Track Listing:
Release Date: October 28th, 2008
01. Mystery
02. Little Fucker
03. And How (< snutt-elf-power-andhow.mp3> MP3) 04. Teddy Bear 05. We Are Mean 06. Stop The Horse 07. Bilocating Dog 08. The Mad Passion of The Stoic 09. Phil The Fiddler

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