Review : A Lull - Meat Mountain EP
PitchforkLast Thursday, Chicago hit 100 degrees in June for the first time since 1988. Like an idiot, I found myself walking around downtown in jeans and a button-up, backpack grafted to my shoulders from sweat, the city's own psych-tinged synth-poppers A Lull's Meat Mountain EP in my ear. I'd spent the week in my climate-controlled apartment grappling with the record, which-- with its wavery synths and clattering polyrhythms and watery post-Animal Collective harmonies-- never quite leapt out of the speakers the way I kept expecting. But out there in that heat, dodging the glint of that nasty old sun, frontman Nigel Evan Dennis telling me to "feel it with [my] heart," well, I certainly felt something.
Meat Mountain comes hot on the heels of A Lull's 2011 twofer, Confetti and its accompanying Confetti Reprise. The Confetti LP in particular seemed, as David Bevan mentioned in his review, especially beholden to the icy geometry of Sigur Rós singer Jonsi's 2010 solo affair, Go, all these brightly colored pieces jigsawed and prismatically reassembled. But there's a warmth to Meat Mountain somewhat absent from the fussier Confetti; it's production's a watercolor haze, and there's some Beach Boys DNA buried deep in their elongated harmonies. You'll hear plenty of Person Pitch in Dennis' elongated vowel sounds and all the samples running up and down Meat Mountain's sides, a bit of Yeasayer and Abe Vigoda alike in Dennis' swooping vocals and the band's tricky rhythms, and the warm pinks and oranges of its washed-out sonics aren't a far cry from chillwave. But grousing on about a lack of originality in 2012 increasingly seems like a fool's errand, especially for a record as warm and unassuming as Meat Mountain. Besides, these guys mostly take the good stuff and leave the rest; just as they tamped down some of Jonsi's more cloying tendencies on Confetti, there's little of Yeasayer's up-with-people earnestness or Abe Vigoda's recent self-serious streak to be found here....full text
EarbuddyThe album artwork for Chicago five-piece A Lull’s new EP, Meat Mountain, is literally a chunk of uncooked steak. It says a lot for a band to use something so ordinary (and perhaps slightly repulsive, to certain audiences) as its cover art. It marks a move to a stripped back, simplified musical direction for a band previously known for creating quite busy, “wall of sound” music. Meat Mountain employs a smaller number of instruments than A Lull’s debut album Confetti, and also embraces empty space as a part of the musical experience.
“Still Got Pull” is probably the best example of this – halfway through its five minute length, the percussion grinds to a stop, allowing the vocal harmonies and fuzzy, scattered guitars to shine through. Lead singer Nigel Evan Dennis uses the song to hypothesise about being kidnapped – “People disappear every day,” he sings – and when the groovy percussion kicks back into gear, you’re so entranced that you’re almost ready to pack your bags and vanish along with him.
Thankfully Meat Mountain doesn’t dwell on such dark subject matter for too long. There’s also plenty of lyrics about love, friends, pretty girls and fighting. The flute and saxophone-drenched “Summer Dress” sees Dennis lusting after a woman in a fancy frock: “You got that dress on / That you know I love“. In contrast, the slow-moving, jumpy track “Not About It” is about getting into a brawl with an unsavoury character – “You’re sadder than anyone I’ve ever / Ever, ever, ever seen / Make yourself feel better / Make me feel worse / Take a hit to the skull / And this is how it goes“. Its not a terribly inventive or substantial set of lyrical themes, but it suits the musical direction of the EP, and the decision that A Lull have made to switch to a more toned-down level of production....full text
NeufuturA Lull‘s Meat Mountain EP, the latest from the Chicago-based 5-some consisting of Nigel Evan Dennis, Todd Miller, Mike Brown, Ashwin Deepankar, and Aaron Vincel, is out tomorrow, June 26th on Lujo Records. The new release is a demonstration of a band that is always changing, trying to evolve from what it was, into something exciting and new signifiying a freshness, as well as growth and maturity. Meat Mountain can be heard in its entirety, streaming in full via the Meat Mountain streaming player made by the band themselves, with the single “Summer Dress,” available for download and stream here. In addition to playing Pitchfork Music Festival on Sunday, July 15th, on a day that also includes Vampire Weekend, The Field, Beach House, Oneohtrix Point Never, and many more, A Lull will be playing the Pitchfork After Party on July 15th in Chicago as well, at Schubas along with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and Dirty Beaches. They’ll stay busy beyond that into July as well, with a group of tour dates with Maps & Atlases recently announced. See below for the full list of dates.
During the recording of Meat Mountain, the quintet sought to achieve more by using less. While previous recordings often relied on creating “walls of sound,” Meat Mountain employs open space as an instrument as well. Most of the core instrumentation was written live, recording demos, rehashing and rebuilding. The band continued to diversify its sound by discovering synth tones that seemed to almost feel like throwback sounds, but new all the same. There was more experimentation with elements such as saxophone solos, flute riffs and even cymbals into the recordings for the first time. The resulting music has a distinctly sincere quality, and is more transparent than any of A Lull’s previous work....full text
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