When confronted by the unusual, what do you do? Stand and face it down, like a knight in a forest clearing or turn and flee; hopefully escaping whatever peculiar promises it brings. Ever since I started writing reviews, how I approach situations such as this has changed immensely. Prior to embarking on this vocation I would often dip into an album and if it didn't immediately begin to fulfil the preconceived ideas of what “my music” should be, then I would cast it aside and move onto the next record; letting my narrow mindedness limit the scope of my enjoyment.
Thank goodness that this has now changed.
For on first listen to this deliriously inventive EP, I must admit that my face was contorted into a scowl of perplexity. My expression betraying the thoughts dwelling below the surface. But as I say, I have grown, I have learnt through hard experience to grant time when faced with confusion. To see if I can come to some kind of rounded conclusion about the goals achievement of those aims by the artist.
Hirondelle are a 6 strong group of Bristol based musicians for whom this is the first release. Their music is as eclectic as one could imagine, with genres as disparate as Pop and Grindcore being referenced and ruminated on. Their sound is suffuse with experiment and the joyful resonance of sonic freedom. Which, coming from Bristol – a miniature melting pot of culture and style – is not surprising. The true surprise is the beguiling depth to which they have successfully developed their ideas.
If you have read this far, I sincerely advise you to download their EP and listen through a few times, allowing it to transport you, by mode and scheme through labours both arduous and essential. Be challenged by the daring juxtaposition of styles, each one taken to its formalist conclusion. Whether you appreciate their Prog-Metal-Neurosis fronted by Dolores from The Cranberries style, or not is up to you, but I urge you to allow this 25 minutes of art into your life.
I refer to this as art not from the standpoint that “all music is art”, but quite literally. It consists not just of music and vocals, but an amalgam of spoken word, soundscapes, sonic juxtaposition and challenging but intuitive structure. Not all of these may be 100% successful but it is delightful and exciting to hear a group of young British musicians approach creativity from a fecund and lucid perspective. Through this they have created something which exemplifys a lively, intelligent yet slightly morbid youth.
From Ashes has been 2 years in the making. A fact that is plainly evident when one comes to terms with the significant number of ideas that each song has woven into it. The instrumentation is both varied and vivid, with choices being made for atmosphere ahead of anger. Although there are moments of heaviness and sporadic rough vocals the emphasis is very much on the languid yet unbreakable grip their melodic shape can obtain on your memory. Dutifully employing pop driven melodic vocals and frenetic riffing as a mnemonic, ensnaring the mind with their strident combination; which is unusual enough to be memorable without sounding incongruous.
But less of my drivel, more of your listening. This EP is available on a Pay-what-you-want basis from BandCamp. And if you do embrace this opportunity, open your ears, stop your watch and find yourself lost in 2 years hard, thoughtful work.
Feel challenged and embrace the legacy of that contest.
– John Whitmore