The New Sound of Numbers | Liberty Seeds (Cloud Recordings)

What you find on this very unconventional 13-song platter is a haunting blend of organic, homegrown chamber pop, percolating percussion, and fairly static female vocals which, when layered or harmonized with, create a sharp-edged, captivating sound.

 

cd_soundnosI like surprises. Specifically, I like to be surprised when I put a new CD in the changer for the first time and find myself compelled to listen to every track straight through, without that restless impulse to skip around. Hannah Jones, percussionist for the Instruments and Circulatory System, is largely responsible for the particularly compelling surprises on the New Sound of Numbers' disc Liberty Seeds, which the press release describes as "experimental post-punk."

But I'm not sure that tells you anything very helpful. What you find on this very unconventional 13-song platter is a haunting blend of organic, homegrown chamber pop, percolating percussion, and fairly static female vocals which, when layered or harmonized with, create a sharp-edged, captivating sound. The lack of obvious antecedents tells me this is one heck of an original piece of work. "Luminous September" brims with vitality; you can identify a strong beat, various whirring, clanging percussive sounds, and the fairly non-emotive vocals—but the effect is mysterious and seductive in a hard-to-define way. It's like you want to know more, but easy answers aren't forthcoming.

"The Atmosphere of the Afternoon" is majorly spooky, especially at a point where wordless vocals combine with a melancholic surge of neo-classical sound to potent effect. "Voices proceed, allowed to speak, allowed to speak, allowed to speak…" Jones sings in her ghostliest deadpan, later repeating the lyric, "Objects exist even when they are hidden." Yeah, including the objects involved in this musical treasure hunt. "Tuning the Air" actually has a pretty cool, almost conventional riff, and though occasionally some sounds border on the atonal, the energy is so distinctive and the production so good, that you're carried right through, surfing on Jones' creative sine waves. "Minimal Animal" is one of the more instantly accessible tracks, a place to sample the musical wares here, as the violin, percussion and engaging harmonies would likely appeal to even more conservative ears.

But I'm more instantly taken by the dramatic eccentricity of "Seed Split Open," on which ominous bass, multiple strings, and detached voices bathed in echo create an atmosphere of vague dread or anxiety. And on "la," you hear several overdubbed female voices singing "La la la la" along with a high-pitched violin. When those voices start descending in pitch, it's gloriously weird, great music for some disturbing art film (or the one always playing in that theater in your mind). "Good Things Are Coming" is also a grabber, as Jones repeatedly sings, "Turn up, turn up, tune up your radio/Good things are coming to you."

This strange and uncategorizable recording won't be heard on said radio anywhere I can think of, but it's indeed a very good thing for lovers of sonic nonconformity. Thanks for coming my way, Hannah…transmission received! A

RIYL: Art Bears, Liars (their recent stuff), Kim Gordon's weirder tracks with Sonic Youth

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