Reviews:: Spreepark The Gaysian Invasion

When you layout the records you want to review at the beginning of the week, you kind of assume another blog (or twenty) will have the same schedule. This week however, I had one wrinkle that I thought would be fresh content and might get us one of those solid anonymous comments like, "hey cool. I'll check this out. Check out my blog too!"

Instead, IHM (damn you Matthew) posted on the same stuff earlier in the week, so now it is old news to all of you, but I'm going to talk about it anyway. Spreepark is the work of Woodpigeon's Mark Hamilton (along with three full time members and some nice cameos), and their two records are a mishmash of style, sounds, textures that kind of flow together in some free form experiment.

Both albums are worth a listen (and they are free), but I found myself enjoying The Gaysian Invasion a bit more. Obviously, the immediate jump off point is going to be the Sufjan comparisons. The delicate banjo melodies are incredibly enjoyable, but while I find Sufjan's output exhausting, the quick changes of direction that Spreepark uses keeps me interested. For some reason, when I hear Sufjan I just start wondering how much time and effort is put into every decision. From the subject matter to arrangements to the outfits, every detail seems to thought out.

Spreepark on the other hand, seems to find melodies amongst their chaos, see where they go, and then quickly move on. I mean, the title track starts some chaotic noise before settling into a Pixies-esque riff (seriously, doesn't that sound like Gigantic?). They could have simplified things and let the riff ride for a minute or so and end the track, but instead they slowly seep into a beautiful, spare arrangement while the band repeats the title over and over.

From the start of the record, you never know where the band is going to go next. Die Spreepark Falle starts with theatrical background instrumentation and the hushed, dueling vocals act as just another element. The strings and triangle are the two sounds you can't ignore, but at the two and a half minute mark the tempo picks up, and the sound crescendos. The transition works perfectly, because you still focus on the strings and the triangle, so the faster tempo seems so natural.

The band finds a more danceable flow on What Don't Eat You Whole. The backing "heys" and drum machine/sound effects mix with the vocals nicely and this time, the change-up is the horn that jumps to the forefront, but they almost refuse to let you settle into complacency. The Space 2001/planetary sound track opening of the Overture to the Matterhorn/The Matterhorn Reminisces shouldn't work, but the style adds a degree of significance to the record, which up to this point existed in understated tones. The sound builds and you start expecting a huge, epic number, but Spreepark goes the complete opposite direction with a lush, beautiful banjo driven number. This is probably the song that will grab the most attention, as it falls into the Sufjan realm, but it's the rough edges the band leaves in makes that makes it exciting to me.

In reality, this review could have been about two lines. I could have pointed you to the end of Ghosts Live In My Cupboards and Scare the Children when Mark asks, "Now want do you want to do?" It's a question that probably gets asked a lot in their jam space, and that spontaneous aspect makes this project super exciting. It's also the only way you can explain how the band can find an ambient electro style groove on There's Nothing You Can Say Now and have it work when you put it next to a (deceivingly complex) Daniel Johnston like childish love song of two gay boys on a roller coaster.

MP3:: Die Spreepark Falle
MP3:: The Gaytian Invasion
MP3:: What Don't Eat You Whole

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@ 8:23 PM, Anonymous matthew kicked the following game:

Sorry for ruining your posting plans! If it helps, I'd meant to write about it sooner, but I just kept putting it off...I'm lazy that way.


@ 12:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous kicked the following game:

great review! and not that its a big deal but i think its actually marshall, not mark, that says "now what do you guys want to do" at the end of the ghosts song.


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