Saturday, January 21, 2012

Princeton- Remembrance of Things To Come - Album Review

Princeton has always worn more than one musical face. From the tropical 80's post punk of Calypso Gold to the wonderfully erudite Bloomsbury EP that, to me, embraced the musical DNA of the Beatles, The Kinks, and ELO, Princeton has never been content to not creatively stretch themselves. With all the wonderful and varied music that Princeton has put out, it doesn't surprise me that they would embark on a collaborative journey with the Los Angeles New Music Ensemble on their latest album, Remembrance of Things to Come. According to the press notes, Jesse and Matt Kivel elected to not play their instruments much but allowed the 7 piece ensemble to layer their arrangements over Ben Usen's piano and David Kitz's drums and percussion.

The result is an ambitious, if sometimes, somewhat over produced affair. Princeton does not, however, ever make bad music and overall this is a great record. Some of the bright spots for me are:

"Grand Rapids" awash in pearly synths and whether claps feels like mid 90's club music, sultry and dense like people looking to hook up. The programmed feel only accentuates this feel, it rushes to it's destination in a flurry of sounds.

"Holding Teeth" pulls you in a dozen directions. While the strings, percussion, and more- busy about like down town Tokyo, the vocals extend out slowly, the lyrics sung smooth and sustained. The contra-position here can be, at first, dizzying bu there is method to this madness. As "Holding Teeth" slows down dynamically in it's last throes it feels like you are resting after a long race and by the time the horn starts marrying the vocal lines you are hooked into this amazing emotional opera.

"Oklahoma" has a lush acoustic piano sound that I really love. The chords with a very slight touch of dissonance sewn around a deliberate beat. This song ended much too soon.

"Andre" is my favorite song on this album. It is superbly produced, it has open spaces that let you breath in between staccato strings and belly xylophone strains. This composition has a revelatory feel that builds and lifts you up out of your seat. It has compositional elements that remind me of Ohbijou's wonderful Metal Meets album that I love so much. Jesse vocals are laced with introspection as he sings the evocatively askew refrain-  "There is a knife... there is a knife slowly sinking."

"Loise", more so than any of the other songs on Remembrance of Things to Come feels a bit raw and like a live performance. I love this. The musical arc ebbs and flows until it simply expands and grows into a stirring cacophony of orchestration only to come down again. The acoustic guitar and piano strains add a special element to this composition making the entire piece feel much more organic than some of the other material on display. It is an amazing and fitting end to Remembrance of Things to Come.

Adler Bloom

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