There's No Leaving Now, the newest record from Kristian Matsson’s aptly titled moniker, The Tallest Man On Earth, finds the Swedish troubadour trading in the sense of urgency that fueled his first two records for a confidently relaxed approach. Drums, piano, baritone guitar, woodwinds and pedal steel layer this collection of songs that never compromise virtuosity for immediacy.
The Tallest Man on Earth released The Wild Hunt this past April, and the album found its way into the hearts of fans everywhere. The connection that the Tallest Man on Earth (aka songwriter Kristian Matsson) has with his fans is a sight to behold – he has performed around the world, at clubs and festivals, and the bond between Matsson and his audience is breathtaking. Matsson is the rarest of performers, charismatic and captivating, and his passion for performance bleeds through every single time he takes the stage.
At many of the Tallest Man on Earth shows this year, Matsson closed his set with a new song titled “Like the Wheel.” It quickly became a fan favorite, with YouTube videos spreading virally, and the sets closing on a high note night after night.
“Like the Wheel,” along with four other new songs, make up Sometimes The Blues Is Just a Passing Bird, an EP written entirely after The Wild Hunt. Recorded during a quick break from touring in the summer of 2010, “Like the Wheel” is joined by “The Dreamer,” a soon-to-be-classic that Matsson performs on electric guitar. Sometimes The Blues Is Just a Passing Bird is an open and shut chapter in the Tallest Man on Earth’s songbook – five new additions to those magical performances.
The Tallest Man on Earth released one of 2008's most powerful records, one that Pitchfork praised, calling Kristian Matsson "a natural-born folksinger, earnest, clever, and comforting." Shallow Grave could not have been more simple, just Matsson's commanding vocals with an acoustic guitar or banjo, recorded at his home in Dalarna, Sweden. Although the album was released on the Swedish label Gravitation without the help of widespread distribution, the story of The Tallest Man on Earth spread far and wide through word of mouth. In April 2010 The Tallest Man on Earth released the critically acclaimed album The Wild Hunt and has played dozens of sold-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, Gravitation is pleased to make both Shallow Grave and the Tallest Man on Earth’s self-titled EP (originally released in 2006), widely available on CD for the first time.
The Tallest Man on Earth released one of 2008's most powerful records, one that Pitchfork praised, calling Kristian Matsson "a natural-born folksinger, earnest, clever, and comforting." Shallow Grave could not have been more simple, just Matsson's commanding vocals with an acoustic guitar or banjo, recorded at his home in Dalarna, Sweden. Although the album was released on the Swedish label Gravitation without the help of widespread distribution, the story of The Tallest Man on Earth spread far and wide through word of mouth. In April 2010 The Tallest Man on Earth released the critically acclaimed album The Wild Hunt and has played dozens of sold-out shows on both sides of the Atlantic. Now, Gravitation is pleased to make Shallow Grave widely available on vinyl for the first time.
When fans lined up to see the sold-out Bon Iver performances at New York City’s Town Hall in late 2008, few of them went with any expectations of the opening act. But the audience that night, and on every other night of Bon Iver’s tour that December, were introduced to something special, something unforgettable: The Tallest Man on Earth. This was the first of several tours for the Tallest Man on Earth (aka Kristian Matsson), with obsessive crowds growing each step of the way. With unbridled excitement, we bring you The Tallest Man on Earth’s second LP, The Wild Hunt. It is all here: The words. The voice. The melodies. Ten perfect songs. The Wild Hunt picks up where 2008's Shallow Grave left off, with Matsson doing what he does best. It is unmistakably The Tallest Man on Earth, from the urgent strums of “You’re Going Back” and the sweet melodies of “Love is All,” to the playful lyricism of live favorite “King of Spain” and the subtle hook on “Burden of Tomorrow.” The Wild Hunt isn’t just another folk album; this is acoustic rock ‘n‘ roll from a man with a story to tell. It is impossible to discuss The Tallest Man on Earth’s music without acknowledging Bob Dylan. The seemingly effortlessness, the melodic sensibility and the deft lyricism all recall Dylan’s early years. But when you witness the Tallest Man on Earth perform live, you are watching a man possessed. The energy pours out with every word. Full of intensity and raw emotion, he paces the stage, bringing the audience into the palm of his hand, completely lost in his songs.
"King of Spain" is the first single from The Tallest Man On Earth's upcoming album, The WIld Hunt. Released in conjunction with the band's European tour in March 2010, this is a taste of what's to come. Featuring live favorite "King of Spain" and the exclusive b-side "Where I Thought I Met the Angels," this is a glimpse into what is sure to be one of 2010's most potent albums.
Don’t fear the future. These are Powers have come to conjure the new musical golden age you’ve been waiting for—one of insistence, intensity, and light. And yes, you can dance to it. These Are Powers are known for the dissonance of their early recordings, a cacophony of rhythms and industrial/electronic experiments that recalled Throbbing Gristle one moment, DNA the next. Once rule-breakers, the band is now rewriting those rules with a newfound focus: behold All Aboard Future. Exotic, abstract, hand-crafted sounds—made, found and electronically born—underscore each of these nine songs. Some wail from Pat Noecker’s prepared bass; others stem from the idiosyncratic vocal and guitar style of Anna Barie. The two trade off vocal duties, and in the process dissonant sounds become melodies held together and torn apart in fits by Bill Salas’ electro-acoustic beats. At first listen, much of Salas’ rhythmic contribution sounds as if it could be pre-programmed, but these abstract rhythms are all performed live, interspersing nods to Timbaland with an appreciation for a car crash’s metal-on-metal grind. Fans of forward thinking sound creators such as Gang Gang Dance, Animal Collective and No Age should pay close attention.
Originally released in 2007, Terrific Seasons is These Are Powers’ first full-length album. Terrific Seasons takes off with a punk-like ferocity, recalling the halcyon days of Silver Apples and Throbbing Gristle. It is a poly-rhythmic, frantic, unconventional work that finds These Are Powers utilizing border-line conventional song structures to harness their abstract sounds. From the urgency of opener “You Come With Nothing” to the anthemic croon of “Little Sisters of Beijing,” the distant and sinister meditative sounds of “Drawing Water” and to the sprawling jams of “Pizza Master Ice Cream Palace,” the band covers a tremendous amount of ground throughout their debut.
Taro Tarot is the finest document of These Are Powers’ prowess to date. Following the departure of original drummer Ted McGrath, Chicagoan Bill Salas brings together the bands’ musical ideas concisely and cohesively in just over 20 minutes. It is no easy feat, but on Taro Tarot, These Are Powers demonstrate to the world the power they wield. The low end undercurrent emanating from Noecker’s sub bass tones is like no sound you have ever heard from the four stringed instrument, while the tribal and primitive rhythm of “Chipping Ice” shows that while this band’s music is known to be a heavy sonic excursion, you can also fucking dance to it. The frequency-analyzed sounds of “Cockles” are a thing of beauty, while “Twin Remains” shares a melodic sensibility with SST-era Sonic Youth. These Are Powers pack an eclectic infinity into these six tracks, channeling far-flung musical ideas with their undeniable intuitive sense into an epic, focused statement. Upon one listen to Taro Tarot you will realize These Are Powers have arrived.
On Kairos, we find White Hinterland exploring the edges of minimal pop, accomplishing a delicate but lively seduction through deep, patient bass throbs, prismatic synth textures, and direct, intimate songs sung with an empowered gravitas. Here Casey Dienel tailors the acrobatics of her former songwriting into a slender focus, folding it into deeper grooves. Beneath the baroque arrangements and intellectual lean of Dienel’s previous musical efforts was a sexiness that Kairos exposes, showing the artist for what she is: powerful and comfortable in her own skin, with a glittery voice weaned on pop R&B. With a sound so modern, so contemporary, Kairos fixes White Hinterland’s gaze firmly on the future. Using just one mic, electronics, programming and an arsenal of percussion and instruments, the minimal, washy “Art & B” of Kairos was born. Dienel compared making Kairos to swimming in a cave, trusting only the instinct to just keep swimming. This image perfectly embodies the enchanting and blue-lit atmosphere of the album. Sean Michaels of Said the Gramophone captured it well, after he witnessed a White Hinterland performance where they performed the bulk of Kairos live: “The jazz has been taken out, simply removed. And what is left is so, so, so much space; so much space in which she and Shawn add dark beats, deep bass, dubstep stuff. And she sings in looped curlicues, ivies and gold rings, sampling and re-sampling. They were all new songs and they were utterly astonishing. Here are some names of things it was & wasn't merely: the dirty projectors, the xx, burial, tune-yards, school of seven bells, the neptunes, thom yorke, arthur russell, giovanni pierluigi da palestrina. Any half-samples so far do it no credit at all. What a rediscovery.”
White Hinterland's new EP is a highly ambitious recording containing five songs all sung in French, and it expands upon the wide palette of musical ideas heard on White Hinterland’s debut, Phylatctery Factory. Featuring two original songs, plus covers of songs made famous by Serge Gainsbourg, Brigitte Fontaine and Francoise Hardy, White Hinterland feels right at home amid the musical tradition laid out by these legends. Like some groovy, strange and psychedelic artifact clamored about by crate-digging record collectors, Luniculaire is more than just an EP. It is a testament to White Hinterland’s deep musical vision and a taste of the greatness to come.
Whereas 2006’s Wind-Up Canary was short stories, little Salinger vignettes, Phylactery Factory is filled with dreams, memories, warnings. Dienel’s voice is more hidden, crouching amid swish, drone and the wildflower jazz of her friends - and this second LP is released under a new moniker. It’s an album full of reminders. Reminders of the likes of Laura Nyro, Joni Mitchell, John Cage, Alice Coltrane, M. Ward. Reminders of winter. But mostly reminders to oneself. This is what a phylactery is: the tefillin worn by devout Jews upon head and arm; a prayer in a box and then knotted into place; the reminder of a one and only.