Elephant Micah – Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds
Time-Lag Records 2010
[tags: lo-fi, folk, 2010]
Listen while reading:
I got a bit lazy at Easter and so there were no posts in the last few days – but CFM is back, at least for today. I decided to write some words about one of the two new Elephant Micah releases: Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds. And I have a very strong reason for doing so because I think this is the best folk record of 2010 so far. But let’s start at the beginning. As I first read the news over at Slowcoustic that Elephant Micah was releasing two new albums, I instantly listened to the files provided by the artist for each albums over at Elephant Micah’s band page. Loon Call, the opener of the Echoer’s Intent CD sounded just wonderfully sad and was full of emotions; in the contrary Loop And Lil from Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds was very lo-fi and missed – as I thought after first listen – some deepness. So, due to the amount of money on my bank account, I decided to order only the Echoer’s Intent release. It arrived one or two weeks later and it is a damn wonderful and great acoustic folk record with some good J. Tillman influences (indeed unmistakable). I listened to it over and over and every time I listened to it I got more curious about the other half of the two records. Fortunately there were some good internet spirits that opened up the opportunity to listen to the full album – that’s where the magic begun: One day I worked on my master’s thesis and Plays The Songs Of Bible Bird was in repeat mode – and I think I listened to it 5 or 6 times in a row. Every time it played I got more and more hooked and the album slowly became one of my favorites. That was also the moment I realized I made a mistake by not purchasing both albums in the first place – and so I ordered what I had missed. Leap in time: Three days ago my copy finally arrived here and I’m more than happy that it arrived safe and sound – for in the meantime I listened to it over and over and I got convinced that this has to be the acoustic folk album of the year 2010 (so far).
I don’t want to tell the whole story surrounding the release, you can easily read it over here, but I want to point out that I think I have found back my faith into lo-fi folk (in the MacGregor Burns article I thought I had lost it to a certain degree). I don’t know why exactly, but the first time feeling listening to Loop And Lil completely turned itself inside-out and now I think there can’t be a better way Elephant Micah could have presented his songs – the raw charm of the recording and the fragile tracks are completely fitting opposites (yeah…). The backing vocals of Beth Remis add up wonderfully to Joe O’Connell’s (the real name behind Elephant Micah). I can’t explain why those tracks got such a hold on me, but I know for sure that the ingenuity and the occurring J. Tillman influences are part of it – but I don’t want to overemphasize the point, that the album got some similarities with Joshua’s style of folk, but it sure is one aspect of it. The Brither Bird, The Better (the secret title track) is one of the best tracks I’ve ever heard even though there is nothing that would make it special or something: decent percussions, a simple bass line, simple guitar playing, ok, there is a more experiemnetal center section, but that’s clearly not the reason why I love this track so much. It is the whole atmosphere – the melting of the contrasts. – Maybe I should mention another influence I realize, especially while talking about the J. Tillman influenced The Brighter Bird, the Better: the follow up track, Imagenary Melodies, just shows how close Elephant Micah is to releases of Sam Beam’s early folk phase where he wasn’t afraid of sounding lo-fi and reduced (I just name the wonderful The Sea And The Rhythm EP). Anyway, you mustn’t think of Plays The Songs Of The Bible Birds as of an easy rip-off of those artists – there is more than enough O’Connel in the music to make it independent from the others (especially Are You A Christian? shows this impressively). And also the second objection you might have, namely that Joe just didn’t feel like or wasn’t able to record the tracks in a “proper” sounding way, is completely bullsith. One point objectively and another subjectively prove that. Firstly: Just listen to Echoer’s Intent and you will see a clear and clean produced acoustic folk album, without all the lo-fi – so if you don’t like the lo-fi stuff, just give a listen to the other album. And secondly, the subjective point: I don’t think that those tracks would have sounded nearly as good as they do if they would have been recorded in the Echoer’s Intent way – they need the contrast I spoke of above, they need the raw and the gentle – beautiful portraits drawn in ash (soft breeze). I just repeat it, this is my album of the year so far and I highly recommend to check out both releases and buy them as long as they are available (note: Plays The Songs Of Bible Birds will also be available as a LP version soon). To have a look at the albums, just visit Elephant Micah’s band site – to buy them head over to Time-Lag Records (here and here). CFM awesomeness guarantee!