Crayonsmith 'White Wonder'
Wednesday, April 02, 2008
CLUAS Verdict: 8 out of 10
Review Snapshot: As ever running that fine line between rock, pop, electronica, alternative, and general unclassifiable, Dublin’s Ciarán Smith has produced an album of tracks that are well-written, well produced, well orchestrated and well performed. What more could you want?
Review: Out On A Limb is close to becoming my favourite record label, indie or otherwise, and OOAL0011 - in real words Crayonsmith’s White Wonder - is even more quickly becoming one of my favourite albums. Crayonsmith’s early and possibly more familiar lo-fi sound has expanded and developed into something totally original and new to the Irish market. Subtle snatches of melody, classic if sometimes unexpected harmonic twists, droning percussive synths and charming vocals so beautifully layered and produced that you can almost imagine them standing in rows in front of you: percussion, guitars and synths in rows up each side and Ciarán standing somewhere in the middle, his voice entering and falling out of the swells of sound. Each track is nothing if not considered, containing a wealth of musical ideas that combine to create a soundworld that almost feels like a glimpse into a new world.
It’s so easy to rave about a new artist, new album or new sound, and then after touting it as the best thing since X&Y, to all too quickly lose interest, but this album has so far stood up to a week of constant listening, and still they are new things to discover. This fascination is due in part to the band’s admittedly not-totally-original concept for the album. Having pulled George Brennan on board to help out, White Wonder is a combination of sampled and electronically produced beats and sounds and live instrumentation. And what’s best about it is that you can’t tell which is which, and what appears to be a new and different sound is in fact in part made up of old sounds. Crayonsmith are just too clever for their own good.
In terms of tracks, the album fits so well together, it can be difficult to pick out worst and best bits. In fact, it’s sometimes difficult to tell what belongs in one song and what to another. Consistency is the keyword with this release, but a number of songs such as The Boat, the gently melodies of which move slowly but inevitably towards a hurtling crash of sparring harmonies and guitars only to be suddenly reined back in, and the crunching Anything, which is as perfect an example as any other of the melding of sampled and real, stand out. Opener White Wonder Theme and Lost in the Forest and closer We Sleep bookend the album perfectly with their complementing expansive synth sections and driving verse patterns.