Thursday, August 27, 2009

Reviews:: Valleys Sometimes Water Kills People

Lately I’ve found myself bored by the intimate, reserved stylings of today’s folk scene and have been gravitating towards bigger bold hooks and ear shattering noise. I’m not sure what it is – the heat, the sluggishness of a lot of those records – but they have started to blend and pace has become more important to my music than to a marathon runner. So the fact the new long player from Montreal’s Valleys (formerly They Were Valleys) showed up almost scared me.

Don’t get me wrong, I knew the record would be stellar (hell, after hearing one song, we signed them up to play our HPX showcase); I just wasn’t sure if the fragile, crystalline textures and hushed vocals would transfer as perfectly from cold winter nights to warm, sun filled afternoons. I was won over by the fragile Beach House vocals of The Heavy Dreamer, and loved the energy and tension they added to the track with crashing drums and feedback, but assumed their sound would be best served for nights huddled inside for warmth.

But when you digest a full record of material you realize the emotions they channel aren't just powerful, they are diverse. The duo – Marc and Matilda – fuse noise, picked guitars and textures into a slow moving, metamorphosing sonic experience, but Sometimes Water Kills People exists in a world where aesthetic is more important than hooks and the songs packs more punch and offers more depth than you might expect from a psych-folk duo. Even when drift into more traditional folk sounds (Santiago) they fill the space with gentle hums and noises that force you to keep listening.

Sonically, it’s easy to compare them to post-rock outfits. The layers they craft and how their instruments speak to the listener - the epic 6minute CR68C is a perfect example, as they resist the temptation to pick up pace and as a result the 6+ minutes of moody guitar and textures is like a walk alone in the woods at night; on the surface, it might appear that nothing really happens, but your heart races and your emotions start to consume you – but it’s the vocal interplay between the duo that really sets them apart. Even as the opening track (Killer Legs) swirls loosely for the last 90 seconds of the song, it was the vocals they traded back and forth over the spirited guitar line that set the tone.

But the big surprise for me was the warmth that exudes from several tracks on the record. Silent Woods breaks through the chill like an intense beam of light and the album closer, The Breakers helps finish the listen on an optimistic, comforting high. It's these precious moments that help make this perfect winter record accessible and worth picking up right now. You may not have heard much about Valleys, but chances are that will change once people start hearing this fantastic record.

MP3:: Valleys - Silent Woods

LABEL:: Semprini

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Posted at 7:35 AM by ack :: 0 comments

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