Every so often you come across something that is so immediately affecting that one of the first things you want to do is tell everyone about it; let everyone know how brilliant this thing you ‘discovered’ is. I had one of those moments this morning when, after a couple of weeks of procrastination (for no reason whatsoever), I listened properly to some tracks by a band named Pillars and Tongues. However, I decided that I should wait – be sensible, don’t go running off to post some babbling rubbish before you’ve listened to it a few times, and therefore be more successful in any attempt to discuss this band and actually sound informed, rather than like a raving idiot, I told myself.
Screw it. This is seriously amazing music.
At first, I just let myself get carried away with the – overall – haunting effect of the music, which was easy to do because not only is atmosphere crafted expertly in Pillar and Tongues’ sound, but the songs I was listening to were studio sessions that ran between 8 and 17 minutes long. Instrumentation is often sedate and explorative – at times rather minimal – which adds a sense of intimacy to the music. On the whole, the effect is mesmerising and creates a true listening experience.
At it’s core, the sound comes across (to me) as being rooted in jazz, blues and folk (even at times sounding influenced by the same Middle Eastern ‘mystique’ that the Tea Party were so fond of), but in manifestation it is so much more than ‘sound’ or ‘style’. It contains elements of free-form expression and abstraction, resulting in an explorative style of music that in turn creates a conversation between the musicians. The music itself, however, draws the listener into the conversation quite seductively, and one never feels like an intruder, or that the experience is vicarious.
All this is wonderfully complemented by the vocals. I get the impression that the voice contains a formidable amount of power, delicately reigned in on the tracks I had the opportunity to hear. Don’t be fooled by that assessment, though. The vocals are in no way weak, or overpowered by the music. They are, rather, something of an instrument within the music itself, serving to move you with and through the created landscape, while pointing out notable landmarks along the way. (My apologies here, band members are Mark Trecka, Elizabeth Remis and Evan Hydzik, and though Elizabeth Remis can be clearly heard on backing vocals, I do not actually know who to credit everything else to…yet).
I can’t give you a ‘sounds like’, or a comparitive ground to go on before taking a peek into the realm of Pillars and Tongues – I feel like any attempt to do so would be an injustice. The best I can do is tell you that if you are looking for an intoxicating musical experience that will move through your senses, exploring you as much as you explore it, Pillars and Tongues is the band to listen to.
If that appeals, here is where I get to share another of my favourite music resources: Daytrotter.com. Along with other features of the site, artists – from the well-known to the obscure (at least to me) – record exclusive studio sessions, which are then uploaded and made available as free downloads, accompanied by an article and occasionally an interview. Artists also generally discuss each song, talking about their inspiration, arrangement for the session itself and various other things. It’s invaluable for discovering new music and artists, or to add a few otherwise unavailable versions from your favourites. (Some personal favourite Daytrotter Sessions include the recent Cold War Kids entry, My Brightest Diamond, Bon Iver, Shearwater, Bell X1 and Deerhunter). Once again, these should never serve as a substitute for the real thing, and even though full artist awareness and backing accompanies the downloads being offered for free, I would encourage your continued support by buying their albums.