Boxharp: Loam Arcane
Hidden Shoal

One might expect Boxharp to sound similar to The Balustrade Ensemble given that Boxharp duo Scott Solter and Wendy Allen are also members of the outfit that produced 2007's wonderful Capsules for Dynamophone Records. As it turns out, the groups' sounds are rather different, with the four tracks on Loam Arcane indicating that Boxharp's the poppier unit of the two. Solter's, of course, a well-known quantity in experimental music circles, with production and remix credits for Spoon, Pattern is Movement, and The Caribbean dotting his CV, while Allen's played and toured with the likes of The Court and Spark and Tarantel.

Admittedly, a similar baroque sensibility to The Balustrade Ensemble permeates the EP's disorientating opener “FanFin” when it somersaults through jerkily acrobatic vocal melodies and a rich interweave of bass, piano, synthetics, and mangled beat structures. In “Rainbirds,” Allen multiplies into a choir of Sirens hell-bent on luring listeners into a phantasmagoric world of sparkling piano motifs and vocal polyphony. The song's production is so head-spinning, one easily could imagine transplanting it onto Taking Tiger Moutain (By Strategy) and hearing Eno's vocals in place of Allen's. “The Postcard” injects a topsy-turvy wooziness into the EP as vocals and instruments swirl in an undertow of sounds that leaves the listener in a state of unbalance. Closing out the release is the soothing “Who Are Your People (South Shoal),” a synth-heavy instrumental evocation of humid island tranquility whose Another Green World-like splendour again suggests kinship with Eno. The EP's only sixteen minutes long, but there's more than enough on hand to whet one's appetite for the the group's forthcoming album The Green.

April 2010