Sunday, July 24, 2011

Review: Giant Claw - Mortal Earth/Morbid Earth (Retrograde Tapes, 2011)

Giant Claw’s Keith Rankin, Sarah Wonderling and Ryan Dixon are certainly far more proggy than most of their contemporaries – while most synthesists are satisfied with a simple, yet somewhat catchy melody (or even a skeleton of a melody hidden under lo-fi murk) or a wonderful sequencer setup, for Giant Claw it’s just the beginning.
Side A, “Mortal Earth” is an example of this. Although it’s largely based on sequencers and pads like everyone else’s music, Giant Claw can insert surprising changes in their music, like the sudden, almost baroque break around the middle of the track, giving a bit of a tongue-in-cheek air to the whole cassette, which is rare in a scene where everyone try to create the most seriously zoned out/floating piece of music. Despite its quirkiness (there is even a whimsical flute-like part towards the end!), the music never strays into the pure novelty territory. Instead, it manages to be lighthearted while still being high-spirited and awe-inspiring.
Despite it’s dark name, side B’s “Morbid Earth” is not morbid at all – instead, it’s just as uplifting and somewhat quirky as side A, sprinkling the listener with light and playful arpeggios while a steady rhythm gives the whole side a bright, dancey side, bringing a less drone-based Astral Social Club to mind. Sunny arpeggios roll in and out and melodies keep unveiling. The sound is rich and layered, yet it doesn’t have the tiring “synth overkill” characteristic for, say, the latest Emeralds album. Mortal Earth/Morbid Earth is a rich, joyous progressive synthesizer suite suited for those who want to zone out to vintage electronic beauty without falling into a drone-induced lethargy.

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