Home Recording Project | Home Recordings (File Thirteen)

cd_hrpThe songs sound like they're from some unknown past. You can never quite place it, though. There isn't a concrete tie to anything.




Home Recording Project recreates the sound of a dusty attic in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, with rays of light shining in from a small, dusty window lighting up the bits of dust that you kick up walking through old boxes. The band's songs sound like they're from some unknown past, much like M. Ward. You can never quite place it, though. There isn't a concrete tie to anything.

The band's songs descend from a simple melody into a swarm of droning strings and voice. The guitar playing invokes the style of John Fahey; intertwining dissonant notes in beautiful, melodic figures. As the songs develop, a small arsenal of stringed instruments steps in line, repeating the melody and adding their own variations. The resulting product is a slow dirge, something that is equal parts of an old western funeral song and a dream.

The first song on Home Recordings starts off with a few instruments that almost sound like a string quartet tuning up. The droning notes fall in and out of synch with each other, alternating between mournful notes and dissonant clashes. Nathan Cowing, lead singer and guitarist, drifts into the song by way of his drawn-out vocals, which almost sound like another stringed instrument joining in the wavering drone already in progress.

From there the album ebbs in waves of strings and slow, protracted lyrics. Sometimes it feels like the songs are being drug out, like a southern rap producer decided to give the chop 'n' screw treatment to some old time folk songs, hittin' the three-wheel motion and sippin on the sizzurp with an acoustic guitar, a cello, and a piano.

HRP's drifting, lilting melodies are its defining sound, but they also seem to hold back the band. They are beautiful songs, but they come off as meandering and transparent, too much like the dust in the attic, just floating away. I'm not looking for a straight drumbeat pounding away at the song. That kind of thing wouldn't work with songs as delicate and intricate as these. But in songs where drums are used, the percussion fleshes out the song and gives it substance.

When the band falls in together, it produces ethereal, lilting music that drifts in and out of melodies. In a sense, it almost feels connected to Ornette Coleman and his ideas of group improvisation. The guitars, cello, and piano weave in and out of one another throughout each song, sometimes clashing and sometimes creating beautiful, sedated melodies.

However, too much of these songs leave you with the feeling of being on sedatives. The drifting, dream feeling can get tiresome when listened to en masse. After listening to Home Recordings, I felt like I had gotten up out of a dream, disoriented and groggy. These are beautiful songs, but they never seem to go anywhere. I would recommend listening to this CD in the middle of a sunny Sunday afternoon. Forget trying to do something and let your mind wander around in this dusty dream. B+ | Kevin Huelsmann

RIYL: M. Ward, ambient music, John Fahey

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