Thursday, May 7, 2015
Cassette Review: Crow's Head "Caput Corvi E.P."
[$5 // Edition of 25 // https://crowshead.bandcamp.com/album/caput-corvi-e-p]
The songs of Crow's Head come from a certain place which I cannot quite describe but I feel that more artists should visit. You know how some instrumental bands have those serious strings mixed in with their music? I think of that idea whenever I think of the first instrumental band that I fell in love with, The Cancer Conspiracy. But Crow's Head music takes those strings and really isolates them, puts them at the front and really it becomes their only sound. Now you might think that instrumental music struggles as it is because of the lack of vocals, but when you take away even more elements it becomes one of those "less is more" situations.
The first strings I hear I think are violins. They build with what I believe to be a cello or some sort of bass strings, so as to start off with a lighter strings, higher in pitch, and then have that deeper, lower string pattern mix with it. This is similar to the way that a guitar and bass guitar gel only without the guitars involved at all. It becomes symphonic, yet dark. The pace builds and the music grows heavier, and yet it can also slow down and get just as quiet. Vocals do come in, adding in certain levels of harmony, and the strings have that rusty sound to them, which admittedly is something that can only be heard and not described with mere words.
On Side B we open with what sounds like a guitar to me. The music is blissful and takes on a FNL form. There are still strings such as on the first side, but it becomes more cutting now. Isn't there some movie or television show out there where someone kills someone else with some sort of musical instrument string? Thoughts of that do come to mind here. Then we get into a spoken word piece, which is what I believe it to be over an audio clip. One line says "Nothing scares them more than the silence of their god". That line hits me personally for some reason I can't quite explain. By the end of the side, I'm hearing an influence between Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins somehow.
When you think of the idea that "less is more", you have to understand that it couldn't ring any truer than within these songs simply because if you were to take this and add in a layer of guitars, bass guitars, drums or anything else really it would just feel too busy. It would feel like a mess that I sometimes experience when more than one song opens in more than one browser tab for me (which sometimes can have fascinating results) And so I do enjoy the fact that this could look simple on paper but in reality it is anything but because even adding in the slightest bit of sound could overcomplicate the songs.
It is also quite striking to me how the songs manage to change from Side A to Side B, where they take on this guitar feel and switch over into the tone of something more traditional in terms of instrumental rock. If the idea of "post rock" was a pool, then Crow's Head would be dipping their pinky toe in the shallow end of it, but the very fact that they can reach even that point from the songs on Side A just demonstrates their reach and diversity as artists (which really boils down to being a combination that makes talent)
For reasons I can't fully explain, this cassette also makes me think of Alison Ranger, a band which combined indie rock with hardcore and a very prominant keyboard. Now, to me, I just imagine everything being stripped down- drums, guitars, bass, vocals- and only those keyboard keys remaining. I really don't feel as if that would make for good music. It'd be too simple, as it would feel rather one dimensional. You would just listen to it and know that it needed something more. There isn't a single note on "Caput Corvi" which needs anything more in any sense of the word though. The fact that they can do that in a sort of reverse pattern way just speaks volumes for how tremendous this cassette is and why you should be experiencing it.