Friday, June 3, 2011

Album Review: Arms and Sleepers - The Organ Hearts

To define Arms and Sleepers as any one genre, such as trip-hop, ambient, electro-pop, electronica, or downbeat would be essentially wrong, for a simple reason: they're all of those things. The band, consisting of Max Lewis and Mirza Ramic, has a broad sound that scours those genres and presents some of the best sounds from each. The sound they produce on both The Organ Hearts and their earlier releases feels partially influenced by the past-project both members came out of, Maine-centered post-rock band The List Exists. However, in A&S, there seems to be much more freedom of expression, without restriction to creativity.

A particular moment that stands out on the album is "Reprise", a song that feels much more trip-hop than any of the other songs on the album. The song begins with some low guitar plucking, vibe sounds, piano, and standup bass, actually with a feel of latin jazz more than anything else. With a buildup supported by various other instruments, such as auxiliary percussive instruments and accordian, the backbeat kicks in, and the song continues to pick up more and more, with heavier usage of piano and mandolin, until it hits a cutoff point with a fadeout in the guitar and piano. On the surface, it felt very simple, but with careful listening, the song is exceedingly layered, and was put together quite well.

The last track of the album, "Airport Blues", has a much more cogitative feel, opening with a hauntingly mellow piano, standup bass, and ethereal vocals. With amazing orchestration, the song picks up the drum beat without losing the original feel of the song, also adding background synth strings. As the beat slowly fades away, the song ends almost as it began, with a chorale that ruminates in the mind of the listener as the echo slowly fades. The track is really a unique experience, a despondent, wistful listen that leaves the album on a thoughtful, although melancholy, mood.

The Organ Hearts was a really unique experience for me. I've personally never enjoyed trip-hop that much, but the way Arms and Sleepers went about composing and presenting this album was incredible to listen to, and I thoroughly enjoyed the veritable soundscape the album immersed me into. Each track had a very independent feel, but in a way, led to the succeeding one, and created a truly enjoyable listen.

You can stream some music from the band here, and you can preview / buy the album here.

Track Listing:

1. Kepesh
2. Tusk
3. I Sing The Body Electric
4. The Afternoon Child
5. A Smile In Sofia
6. Antwerp
7. Serie Noire
8. Reprise
9. Yesterday's Child
10. Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye
11. Atelier
12. Airport Blues

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