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Hallo, Anathallo! - click opera
February 2010
 
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Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 10:50 am
Hallo, Anathallo!

This week we've been bringing the music here on Click Opera -- reconstructions of early David Bowie, Oorutaichi, Alvin Lucier, suggestions that blogs are the new record labels. I've also been writing an essay for the booklet of Yximalloo's forthcoming record, Unpop. And now I want to introduce you (except those of you who know them already, of course) to a young and very interesting band, Anathallo, who've just signed to Anticon and will release a new album -- entitled Canopy Gold -- in November.



Anathallo -- there are about seven of them -- are Midwestern Americans who sing mostly in Japanese. As you do. (Hold the press, Matsuri-kei Japanizes the Midwest!) Their songs are -- naturally -- adaptations of Japanese folk tales. Something about the sound of them reminds me of Brian Eno's statement that "empathy is the basic unit of social intelligence".

There's lots of empathy here. There's lots of intelligence, too: this is a band who financed themselves (fed seven hungry mouths) in the early days by making music for a Vick's commercial rather than signing immediately to a label. Their first releases were homeburns. The track in the background here is "Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!" from their self-distributed album Floating World.



The large number of members -- and some sense that they're not so much a band as a religious cult -- reminds me a bit of The Polyphonic Spree. They're also very much a post-Animal Collective band, it seems to me. The vocal layering and the boho-hippy art school vibe frame them with the Rhode Islanders. Less obviously, according to Impose Magazine, there's even something Momus-like about them. "More than good, great," raves the Impose writer. "Sort of like Godspeed meets a Philip Glass quartet getting overdubbed by Momus." Who knew that egosurfing would prove such a great A&R tool?



But why the Japanese? "This is going to sound really heady and stupid," says co-founder Matt Joynt, "but we decided to use the Japanese culture and linguistic differences as a sort of backdrop to balance the way that we try to narrate our lives based on the different systems that we have around us. So we have this sense of two different languages pitted against each other in a sense of uncertainty by the listener, who will probably think "What are they singing? I can't even understand it." To have that sort of tension between the two things opens up a dialogue about -- I think, anyway -- how we narrate our lives."

Oh, and bass player Seth grew up in Japan, and likes to tell folk tales about dogs and buried treasure.

Parish notes (Berliners only): Joe Howe plays a show as Germlin on Wednesday here in the Neukolln hood. Come along!


22CommentReply


(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)

I don't like pop music because it's all so predictable. Pop records don't have any surprises because they just conform to whatever sounds are fashionable at the time.

This "unpop" indie pop band here is on the anticon(formist) label, but their sound totally conforms to what a 20-something Animal Collective fan at Pitchfork would want to hear in a band he reviews.

How do I explain this contradiction?


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tinyfolk
tinyfolk
Never Angeline
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 03:57 pm (UTC)

because anyone who talks about "nonconformity" is either 16, really immature, or ralph waldo emerson.

And for the record, I love pop music. I'd rather listen to just about any Kelis single than to this band.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 03:32 pm (UTC)

Ugh.. not a big fan of these guys.. I went to the university with some of them, and while they are nice guys, there is a lot of Christian horseshit and preaching involved in their shows. They would stop between songs to tell the audience that Jesus matters more than music. Also a lot of their "ideas" came from the lead singer/song-writer's one Literary theory class. Their music just never got deeper than 101 or more complex enough for me. I guess they are kind of like Vampire Weekend.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)

Are they Christians?

But aren't, you know, 80% of Americans Christians?


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tinyfolk
tinyfolk
Never Angeline
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 03:51 pm (UTC)

I saw Anathallo play at a christian music festival in Illinois in 2003 and was kind of bored by them.


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tinyfolk
tinyfolk
Never Angeline
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 03:52 pm (UTC)

oops, it was 2002


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:14 pm (UTC)

Oops Momus boo boo's again in his attempt to be cool and down with the kids. 2 tracks short of an album as ever.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:39 pm (UTC)

Love the apostrophe in "boo boos"!


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 07:14 pm (UTC)

"Love the apostrophe in "boo boos"!"

That's because your non conformist and really bad just like the music you listen to,lol. My humble apologies to your 5 readers.


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 07:55 pm (UTC)

Perfect -- you put one in "boo boos", but not in "you're"!


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)

its boring now no wonder nobody comes around anymore. mmwwah


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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 09:14 pm (UTC)

Apology accepted. Now go, and sin no more.



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count_vronsky
count_vronsky
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:25 pm (UTC)

puppet show


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 04:27 pm (UTC)

Love the Kasa No Hone video


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
flannel-kei

Fellow CMU alumni... I agree with their thoughts (from an interview) on the pleasant vacancy of Mt. Pleasant, and I dig the Japanese twist, but I can't say the music is grabbing me, though perhaps it'll slouch more towards me later. Do you think they're Momus-like?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 06:15 pm (UTC)
Re: flannel-kei

No, I don't hear any Momus at all in there. And they don't mention Momus when they talk about influences in interviews.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Re: flannel-kei

Yeah I have to agree. There really isn't anything Momus-like. They have their own influences. They are doing something and playing with something that could be interesting. I just think they need to push it further, read more, and construct and deconstruct the writing. Nick is miles ahead.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 08:40 pm (UTC)

Wow, strikingly bland. These fellows have played about a gazillion small hall shows around Michigan with a gazillion other "local" emotion n' roll bands that all sound and look like a clubhouse set that welcomes anyone with boredom and a guitar. Your taste reminds me of plain oatmeal on this pick Nick, and really, I have had the pleasure of sitting through more than one of their sets without a memory of it to share; it's like wallpaper of the most standard and timely sort.
-John Flesh


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Aug. 30th, 2008 08:42 pm (UTC)

...and that's oatmeal based on flavor only; it's missing the wonderful texture that makes oatmeal edible and nice.
-John F


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Aug. 31st, 2008 12:47 am (UTC)

So surreal that this is on your blog, I still remember Matt Joynt serving me coffee at U-Cup.

(And yes, I'm a different CMU anonymous alum than above).

The banality of the midwest (mid-Michigan especially) forces area artists to seek out new perspective (as there's very little flavor here, not much informing taste variety). Unfortunately, in the excitement of discovering a world of color beyond this culture void, we sometimes end up a bit too on the nose with how our influences "mix" together; we get a bit too inspired with one kind of sound, and create music that ends up seeming a bit too "familiar," creating solid music, but not bringing much new to the table. I feel like a lot of artists in this area fall into this pattern, in art making. Many of us don't have that "sponge filter" that develops from growing up on the "coasts" (or wherever) and we end up indulging to excess, like puppies discovering chocolate.

Nice to see these guys making it though, always very friendly.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Aug. 31st, 2008 12:51 am (UTC)

One more thing, I'm not trying to excuse midwestern artists in any way, just making a generalized observation.


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