Thursday, October 18, 2012

April in the Orange - In the Mirror Under the Moon [Cae-sur-a]

While Cory Card's output as head of the Cae-sur-a label has been fairly varied, I was pleasantly surprised when I heard this April in the Orange cassette. Not only does it mark yet another new direction for the label, it's also really good.
Opener "Of the Night Hymn Ikue" is a great little folk ditty with bouyant acoustic strums and a spacey electric guitar (and possibly a keyboard) blanketing the piece and providing occasional counterpoints. This introduces the blueprint that the duo of Andrew Barrett and Samantha Linn use throughout the course of the tape. Acoustic guitar, drowsy vocals, heavily effected electric guitar and keyboard.
There are a lot of great songs on the tape but the best is "Same Old Mystery." It's reminiscent of Warm Climate's Stunned tapes minus the strange soundscaping and rock & roll panache. It's seriously catchy and the electric guitar accompaniment kills it again with an equally catchy riff and nice little solo. Can't get enough of this tune. "Xerxes Folding Roses" ups the ante even more with a positively gorgeous acoustic guitar melody that appears halfway through. "Love All the Same" feels like some of the sleepier MV+EE stuff, very nice.
Barrett and Linn throw a bit of a curve on "Outsideinsideeverywherenowhere" at first, with some reggae-like guitar stabs before they start rolling with acoustic guitar again and somebody starts shredding on his/her axe. One of the more rambunctious tunes included here, making for a great climax before the brief, soft "Under This Wave" leads you into the tape flip.
"Amethyst & Azure" waltzes along, drifting like a cloud with excellent slide accompaniment and hazily effected keyboards. Linn takes over on vocals for "To a Lost Family," and her vocals add a different dimension to the band. Her vocals are recorded much cleaner and their a bit stronger (though still soft) than Barrett's whose vocals tend to blend in with the instruments. Barrett's style probably fits the overall aesthetic a bit better but it was nice to hear Linn for a change of pace.
The final track "Morning Never Came" clocks in at nearly 13 minutes. It's at once one of the stronger and weaker tracks. It features some of the most beautiful songwriting on the tape though It segues into a long "drone" section that feels a little tacked on. I admire the adventurousness but the duo is much better at arranging songs than drones. The main misstep is that the section just sort of goes on and on without being particularly dynamic. Had they shortened it to a minute or two before wrapping things up I might have have applauded them for the left turn but as is I think they veered a little too far off course. Still, I am mostly just complaining at this point, the song is still a good one and you can press stop at any point in the drone and start the tape over.
Druggy, hippy folk can go either way for me, a lot of it is none too great but based on this cassette alone April in the Orange has to be one of the best groups practicing the genre.
In the Mirror Under the Moon is fantastic. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous atmosphere and brilliantly bare little songs. Nimble and pretty addicting, check this baby out!

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