Haale | No Ceiling (s/r)

cd_haale.jpgThe two main elements of No Ceiling are Haale‘s vocals and percussionist/producer Matt Kilmer’s rhythm.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s not often I truly enjoy the mixture of American pop and rock music with the cultural sounds of other countries. The songs usually seem very forced and mechanical, basically taking a familiar rock rhythm and mixing it with a generic cultural icing. You get the effect that you are listening to two mediocre songs from two different countries at the same time.

However, No Ceiling by Haale is a splendid journey through blended cultures and influences. Haale is Bronx born but of Iranian decent. Thus, her music has elements of the Persian music records her parents played in their home and the folk rock of the ’60s and ’70s that Haale enjoyed growing up. At first one might mistake No Ceiling as another rock album that tries to take advantage of Eastern themes in music for dramatic appeal. If you have ever listened to Tool’s Lateralus or Led Zeppelin’s Physical Graffiti, you might be tempted to say Haale has a similar sound. But a deeper listen would prove this to be wrong.

The difference between Haale and these predecessors seems to be the approach to the music. A band like Zeppelin seemed to apply the Eastern sound on top of rock music. Haale and Co. take traditional Eastern styles and apply rock to it. What you get is something much more sincere and encompassing in a folk tradition way.

The two main elements of No Ceiling are Haale‘s vocals and percussionist/producer Matt Kilmer’s rhythm. Haale’s voice is often used as another instrument that holds its own with the rest of the music. At times it is sweet and hopeful, then can quickly change to a raspy, dark tone. On several tracks Haale also provides her own guitar work and her influence is on every song. Kilmer‘s rhythmical percussion adds well to the mysterious themes of the album and helps bring the listener into the deep fold of the album. Filling out the album and making the sound complete are various NYC musicians who provide various guitar, clarinet and cello techniques. The overall effect is like taking a journey to an exotic place of wonder.

Lyrically, the songs are more poetic in nature than the standard pop song. In fact much of the album is sung in Persian and in the form of traditional noheh. This helps to bring the listener into an even more authentic experience — an experience that at times becomes hypnotic and enchanting. But don’t let the idea of non-English vocals scare you. They make perfect sense when you are listening, and they are translated into English in the liner notes.

If you have ever enjoyed Eastern themes in pop and rock music and wanted to hear more, then No Ceiling may be the perfect album for you. Though the album is very sincere, it’s also very pop friendly. One will hear many psychedelic and alternative sounds, yet the album never gets too trippy or rocks out too hard. Its folk sounds seem to keep it rooted in a nice, comfortable spot. This album is definitely an early favorite of 2008. A | Ryan Parker

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