Monday, March 20, 2006

Anathallo "Floating World"


Ever since I received this cd in the mail a few weeks ago, I've been wanting to write about it. I didn't even have to listen to it to want to write about it, because the packaging alone merits comment. It is quite impressive, as the outer sleeve is a rather intricate stencil, wrapped around a book of colorful pages containing the lyrics and the story behind the lyrics (oh yeah, and the cd).

And the story is quite curious. It seems that Anathallo has written an album around this mythology, of which I do not know the source. Anyway, I won't recap all the details, but a gentle hearted couple rescues a fortune-bearing white dog from a stream, and their angry neighbor steals the dog to try to claim a similar fortune. However, the dog only yields ugly things for the angry neighbor, and in a rage he kills the dog, and burns his body. The ashes scatter over the ground, and the next day a great wind comes and the ashes begin to bring life to the barren ground. The gentle-hearted man grabs a pocket full of ashes and climbs as high as he can into a tree. He throws the ashes down, and they turn to snow. The snow turns to water, and the water turns the barren ground to green. Flowers bud and the earth continues to come out of hibernation. The greedy neighbor tries to duplicate the miracle, and instead brings destruction--the floating world.

The album tells this story and more. It is beautiful from beginning to end, and I certainly cannot put my fingers on all the layers of depth, either musically or lyrically. But I can recognize a great album when I hear one. Anathallo is inventive in its use of standard rock instruments while incorporating brass and auxiliary percussion such as claps, stomps, chains, and marching drums. The rhythmic changes are inventive, yet they do not alienate the listener by being overly complex. The melodies are unpredictable, yet accessible. At every listen, I've discovered something new. This is the album I've been waiting for. I guess I always thought it would come from Iceland or the UK or somewhere exotic like that...but never underestimate the might of Michigan. Thanks, Anathallo.

Everyone else, buy the album here.

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