Saturday, February 13, 2010
I bet everyone can name a few albums that have caused an aesthetic, existential shift within, when considering personal taste, auditory expectations and creative standards. Based on anecdotal research that I have conducted, in speaking with friends and family, it seems as though these pivotal albums are usually discovered and internalised during one's youth. I think this is usually reported because developing minds can absorb external stimuli extremely efficiently, and teens/twenty-somethings have the freedom to really commit time and attention to popular culture and various media. People of any age can be blown away by music and art, and change from an aesthetic experience, but it seems as though these "changes" and "shifts" are more apparent in those with impressionable minds.
One of the albums that really changed my conception of music and helped to formulate my taste for poignant, contemplative composition was The Appleseed Cast's Low Level Owl. This complex sprawl of an album was divided into two volumes, similar to the way in which Radiohead's Kid A and Amnesiac were created as a single album and then divided for economic reasons. Both Low Level Owl I and Low Level Owl II are constructed around leitmotifs, recurring musical themes and melodies that the band applies to their post-rock methodology and DL4 delay pedals. Like many concept albums, it is difficult (and self-defeating) to isolate specific tracks from the work as a whole. The true skill of Appleseed lies in their ability to compose atmospheric, repetitive and evocative compositions (think Mogwai, Silver Mt Zion, GSYBE, Explosions in the Sky) which are irregularly punctuated by tight, catchy "indie"-sounding tracks. The band's ability to fuse experimental, proggy tracts of sound with catchy musical vignettes - without seeming deliberate or pretentious - creates musical juxtapositions that are entirely unique and memorable.
While I am a fan of Appleseed in general, I must admit that Low Level Owl is their OK Computer...their Andrei Rublev...their V. It is the creation that sparked their career and will be recognized as a genre-defining work in years to come.
AND: The Appleseed Cast is playing Low Level Owl I and II in their entirety on March 9, 2010 at Vancouver's Biltmore Cabaret.