17 February 2009

Album Review: Aria Orion - Let the Sharp Stone Fly


Please, let the sharp stone fly. Maybe it will knock some sense into the head of Jules Gimbrone, who wrote this jumbled mess. Sparse and pretentious, the shortest song on this six-song avant-garde album is 4:17. Two reach the seven minute mark. Having no forehand knowledge of the band or their music, playing the CD for the first time proved a bad decision.

The musical genres represented on the album range from indie folk to atonal and acoustic. For whatever reason, the band chose to place "Dark and Light" at the start of the disc. I cannot imagine why, as it's positively (or should I say negatively?) awful. Wind chimes kick off the song (never a good sign), transitioning into some of the weirdest Bjork-ish warbling I've ever heard. A slow string dirge follows for three minutes, and the song finishes with what might best be described as Schoenberg-style acoustic ska.

The title track comes next, and I can't find anything much better to say than, "This music is completely unplayable on the radio." Um, the musicians are competent? They play well, but the music they play switches focus all the time. Sometimes I feel like I'm listening to a poetry reading--wait, it's klezmer time! Then it's a drum interlude... what the hell is that guitar doing? Wow, this accordion and oboe section is boring, etc. etc. It goes on, and I don't know why this music was put to CD. None of it follows any semblance of structure or convention. "When I Wake" shows initial promise with its mournful vocal sections, but it's all lost in the shifting styles each song encompasses. When I hear something good, it's quickly set aside for a new movement. In the end, even "When I Wake" doesn't deserve radio play.

Someone should tell composer Jules Gimbrone to write fewer of these weird songs. The closest to mainstream is "Augur," which has all the texture of a forest scene conceived by indie hippies for the first half, then morphing into some strange minor section using strings in a way that they not meant to be used for. If my descriptions sound vague, it's because there is little that Aria Orion could be compared to. Listening to Let the Sharp Stone Fly, I get the idea that quality songwriting came second to unconventional songwriting. If any of my colleagues suggested that they would play this album on the air, any acceptable reason for this would only satisfy me if it were written in a lengthy essay.

Any time Let the Sharp Stone Fly gets anywhere near listenable, the band suddenly veers away from such sounds as if to say, "Oops!" Listen if you like tone deaf music, or if you don't like anything anyone else listens to. Even the jazz freak-out Radiohead once used in "The National Anthem" is more listenable than this. I'll let John Hodgman sum up my opinion of this record:

7 comments:

Vince said...

This album sounds awesome in the sense of like "Are these guys serious? This is awesome." As if that makes sense.

Robert said...

Yeah, I get it. You're saying that it's awesome that a band could be so serious about music that sucks rubber band balls? Unfortunately, the result of their work wasn't so stellar...

Owen Marshall said...

This actually sounds pretty cool. I'll have to give it a listen.

becktronbexbecky said...

You're spewing some wicked hatred, Rob-0. I'm listening to Let the Sharp Stone Fly at this very moment, and I certainly would not, could not agree that the music "sucks rubber band balls."

Robert said...

I stand by what I wrote. The weirdness of this album is off the charts, and I could not see myself playing this CD on the radio at all.

becktronbexbecky said...

Haha, yeah it's definitely not suited for radio!

Craig said...

Just a suggestion from a fairly random passer-by. You mention that you are bothered by the length of the songs and then mention you are bothered by the wild variations within a song. I would say think of each shift or movement or whatever you want to call it a song to itself. In that case each song is only 3:30 or so but just sometimes bleeds into the next. This may make it easier to digest. I would also listen to a healthy dose of traditional folk tunes (British and American) to get some points of reference. I think after that you might find more to like about this album and how it manages to merge those old traditions with a bit of jazz. It's never going to rock out all catchy like but I personally don't find it all that weird and would have no problem playing it on my radio show.