US - New York - Full Moon 211 - 11/17/13
Hidden Shoal Recordings
As Hidden Shoal put out Liam Singer's "Unhand Me (You Horrid Thing)", the third single promoting his 4th album, Arc Iris,
I suddenly realise: ooops, I've forgotten to review the album... So, better a little bit late than a whole lotta never.
Arc Iris was released on July 11th (hey, we're only 4 months late...), and was promoted by a couple of single tracks, namely
"Stranger I Know" and "Nine Ten". His former album, 2010's Dislocatia, was a tasty dish for sure, and so is Arc Iris. Liam Singer is somewhat a 'whiz-kid', as he started to study piano as a child. Well, many kids have had piano lessons at an early age one might say, but... Singer started to compose and record songs at age 14. Playing the accordion, synthesizer and Theremin. That is not for every kid on the block, right. His interest led him into college studies, with harpsichord as his primary instrument. As a creative soul/mind while at college he played in several bands, and he also (according to the label) co-founded a 20-piece kazoo orchestra! Singer is also active as a backing musician for others, as he f.i. plays keyboards for Devil Be Gone, the band-project of Rob Hampton (ex-Band Of Horses). By judging the titles of
his first two albums The Empty Heart of the Chameleon and Our Secret Lies Beneath The Creek (both released by label Tell-All), and by listening to his music, he seems to be a man of magic and mystery, maybe even solitude. He has been 'compared' to (or said to have been inspired by) a line of different acts/artists/composers from John Cage and Philip Glass, by The Beach Boys and The Smiths/Morrissey,
via Sufjan Stevens and Stephin (The Magnetic Fields) Merritt (add Owen Pallett as well), to Erik Satie. Arc Iris is yet another collaboration (the third album in a row) with artist and producer/mixer (Okkervil River, the Mountain Goats, and more) Scott Solter. It's an album said to be influenced by The Soft Bulletin and Pet Sounds, which means classic 60s merged with classic 00s, with ambitions peaking sky-high and creativity close to overloading. BTW; is Arc Iris named after Providence, RI indie folk band Arc Iris (fronted by The Low Anthem's Jocie Adams)..?
According to AllMusic Liam Singer operates within a variety of genres and styles, such as 'Avant-Garde; Classical; Pop/Rock Vocal; Classical Crossover; Avant-Prog; Cabaret; Modern Composition; Prog-Rock; Minimalism', and his moods count 'Cerebral; Difficult; Theatrical; Ambitious; Fiery; Indulgent; Clinical; Insular; Uncompromising; Complex; Quirky; Volatile; Detached; Searching'. Phew...a lot of tags, for sure. Arc Iris must be chamber-pop at its best, maybe also at its outer-most. Anyway, it is brilliant, and its complexity almost (almost) makes Sufjan Stevens a modest, sober and minimalist singer/songwriter. Some tracks are almost Mike Oldfieldish, while others dig deep into prog-pop territory. The album was recorded over a ten-month-stretch of creativeness and experimentalism, including the invention of an electronically-aided glass harmonica! The result is simply... breath taking. One can only collect adjectives from around. Graceful, delightful, sublime, stunning, wonderful, spine chilling, brilliant, irresistible, beautiful, et al. "Nine Ten" has been described as '...a perfect little music box', while Hidden Shoal describes the album to be/hold '...rich in wondrous, resonant details and dizzyingly deft song craft', as well as describing Singer being a '...arresting compositional talent married not only to an innate sense of melody and emotion, but also to a keen sense of texture and atmosphere'. Highlights? A lot. The singles, of course, plus "The Astronaut", "O Endless Storm", "Dear Sister/Gears Turn In Gears", "Eye Eclipse Eye", "Plestiodon Fasciatus". I rest my case.
Copyright © 2013 Håvard Oppøyen