Silhouette (07.09, Other Electricities)
Byline: Less Arcade Fire more Tripping Daisy.
For: Mercury Rev, Spiritualized, a louder Ester Drang
When it comes to touchstones for bombastic, anthemic rock songs I appreciate Black Feather's insistence on looking beyond 2004 for influences. Silhouette is much more Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb than Funeral. The whole album seems to be a meditation on a time when bands like Mercury Rev, Spiritualized, Flaming Lips, and Tripping Daisy were making beautifully orchestrated, drug-hazed, and ultimately powerful and uplifting albums. If you haven't heard of Black Feather you are not alone. Black Feather is essentially Harald Froland, former guitarist of Norwegian jazz pioneers Jaga Jazzist. After two years of label shuffling and hard drive failures, Silhouette finally found a home on Portland's Other Electricities label. The album will see the light of day sometime this fall. Like Mercury Rev, Black Feather marries the towering possibilities of the standard power chord, verse/chorus change up with a sense of child-like exploration and experimentation. Hidden beneath the surface, a tide pool of beautiful anti-rock instrumentation of woodwinds, brass, strings, etc... clamber over layered synths and skittering electronics. It seems like bands these days are trying to make songs with a climax that makes time stop, that is so completely overwhelming that it is easy to mistake for some kind of mystical or religious experience. "Razor Blade" is the only song that has done that in a long time. The pummeling percussion and simple lyrics completely crushes me like "Sonic Bloom" does every time I hear it. It takes a lot of guts to cram that much optimism in a song and still sound legit. Froland's deadpan vocals aren't faking it one bit, they carry the metaphysical weight of each song to each dizzying plateau. There is no filler in this album, every song stands alone as a type of anthem or requiem to a sense of hope either lost, found, or on its way getting there.
Black Feather: Razor Blade
Not Black Feather: But I can see how they can be confused