Skip to main content
Loading...

Elephant Micah - Genericana Music Album Reviews


Despite its title, Joseph O’Connell’s second release for Western Vinyl is his most distinctive release to date, an elegant study of life’s circularity set against a backdrop of slowcore folk and woozy rock.

On his umpteenth album as Elephant Micah, Joseph O’Connell transforms his comfortable Midwestern folk into something harder to define. The compact six-song cycle—only his second record on Western Vinyl, after many years of self-releasing—begins and ends with the sound of staticky waves crashing through stereo channels. These are the most pronounced of many subtle concentric circles that ripple through the album’s lyrics and structure. 2015’s Where in Our Woods was a pretty good Will Oldham record, but it was more deserving of the hilarious title Genericana than the slowcore folk and woozy rock, colored with analog electronics and vocal delays, that composes O’Connell’s most distinctive release to date. If Arthur Russell had been a product of the Elephant 6 collective rather than downtown New York art music, he might have written songs like this. But there’s more to Genericana than that.

The change in Elephant Micah’s music feels at least partly related to a change in scenery. A former resident of Indiana, where he worked as a folklorist, O’Connell now lives in North Carolina, a couple of hours from the coast. If his old music had something familiar, landlocked, and level about it, Genericana is shaped by both the stranger’s fresh perspective on new terrain and the ambient call of the sea. There’s also a new toy in play: Working with his brother Matt, who is a former Moog employee, and Jason Evans Groth of Magnolia Electric Co., O’Connell built an analog synth he calls the Mutant. A small console with (of course) a woodgrain finish, its wet, spongy, gentle timbre endows O’Connell’s sparse, low-slung percussion and spindrift guitar licks with oceanic depth and weight.

I just segued sharply from nature to technology, it’s true—but that’s because O’Connell does it, too. Genericana is discreetly meta, conflating the natural world and the mechanical medium that captures it. This juxtaposition and O’Connell’s fixation on circles whorl together most elegantly on opener “Surf A.” The bass thumps as slowly and evenly as O’Connell’s lonesome voice does, while the Mutant burps and moans forlornly. “If I were a taper, I’d magnetize this tone, press rewind at the end,” he sings. At one point, with vocal delays, he adds, “Go around on the track. I’d circle and come back.” The song churns with wheels within wheels, O’Connell’s voice wrapping around itself like the album does, and like the sea, and like magnetic tape, and like, if we follow the line to its logical conclusion, life itself. The simple, longing strains conceal a thorny philosophical question: Eternal recurrence, anyone?

Just one hissing cymbal serves as the song’s muted climax. O’Connell isn’t given to grand, impulsive gestures; he prefers patient development and sculpting. “Surf A” bears such careful scrutiny because it funds the rest of the album with its circular motifs. They go underground in “Fire A,” a trad palate cleanser with lazy, sweet tangles of electric guitar and peaceful vocal refrains, and “Life B,” a minimalist dream pastoral that wills itself into motion with stoical slowness. Then they resurface in two songs—“Fire B,” which gives the Mutant’s wobbly trills an interlaced workout, and “Surf B,” a crashing rock finale—where the opener’s rhetorical structure and vocal melody recombine, like the solution to an equation.

It would come as no surprise if there were an arcane mathematical structure behind Genericana’s deliberate permutations of words, melodies, and textures. But you don’t need to know what it is. You feel it as a force, a sort of inward spiral—a circle shrinking to a point, a pinhole through which the circle bursts back into fullness. “We start all over again. Let it turn into dust. It’s gone, whatever it was,” O’Connell concludes, but nothing’s gone. We’re cycled back to the rolling waves where we began, the same words and gestures snapping into their preordained places again.

View the original article here

Comments

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Loading...

Popular posts from this blog

2019 BMW i8 Review

The 2019 BMW i8 is a head-turner for its looks, which hides its plug-in powertrain. That’s good or bad, depending on your priorities.Even among six-figure cars with two doors, the 2019 BMW i8 steals stares. That could be because of the dramatic wing doors and futuristic shape, its laser headlights at night, or the 2019 i8’s silent propulsion for up to 18 miles.
Or it may steal attention because, even after more than four years on sale, it’s a very rare sight.

LG G5 Review In-Depth

Can LG take on the Galaxy S7 with a metal design, dual-cameras and an accessory slot? Here's our first LG G5 review, focusing on LG G5 design and build, LG G5 specs, LG G5 cameras and LG G5 software and apps.
Alongside the Galaxy S7, the LG G5 is one of the biggest phones (not literally) to launch in 2016 – and we're not just talking in the Android world. It's one of the heavyweights and LG will be looking to set the market alight with the G5's alternative and innovative modular design.

Apple iPhone XR Review

If you aren't sure you are ready to leave the Home button behind and embrace Face ID, think again. We'll tell you why the iPhone XR is worth the sacrifice - especially because it's just as good (if not better than) the iPhone XS. Find out more in out full review.
Should I Buy The Apple iPhone XR?
The iPhone XR brings Face ID to the masses. We’re sure people will continue to rebel against the lack of Home button, but eventually we expect them to come round and embrace the larger screen, Portrait mode (front and back), animoji and memoji.We have no doubt that this will be a popular iPhone and it deserves to be. The only question is why would anyone buy an iPhone XS when the iPhone XR is just as powerful and has a bigger screen.

Google Pixel Review

Not everyone wants a phone with a big screen, but most small-screen phones compromise on performance and cameras. Not so with Google’s latest flagship Android phone: Here’s our Google Pixel review.
Joining the ranks of the Pixel C and Chromebook Pixel are Google’s new Pixel phones. We’re reviewing the smaller 5in Pixel here, but you can read our separate Pixel XL review if you’re after a bigger phone.

BlackBerry KEYone Review

BlackBerry soliders on with a curious Android device that gets nearly everything right. It’s not for everyone though, in fact, it’s not really for anyone. But if you want a physical keyboard you will absolutely love it.
Should I Buy The BlackBerry KEYone?
But then, the KEYone is the best BlackBerry phone for years. It has (finally) successfully melded classic BlackBerry design with the necessary mix of Android and nostalgia. Importantly, the latter is only faint this time – this is a device for 2017, not 2007.If you love your iPhone or Samsung, you’ll hate the KEYone and won’t even consider buying it. But if you’ve made it to the end of this review, chances are you’re weighing up a buy. If you think you’ll love the BlackBerry KEYone, then I’m pretty certain you won’t be disappointed. You’re part of a minority, but finally BlackBerry has a phone for you that doesn’t force you to compromise.

Like Fan Page