January 15, 2013 by zdueck
Alright, so it’s a new year with a newly revamped blog ready to deliver snippets of tonal awesomeness right to your ears. And to kick off this new year I thought I’d start with a few posts of what I’ve spent this whole last year void of posts listening to.
This summer Jonathan Boulet released ‘We Keep the Beat, Found the Sound, See the Need, Start the Heart’. While perhaps not the best album of the year, it was certainly one of the most innovative albums I had heard in a good long while. The very second those first few bars of the record hit my ears I was stunned by how fantastically everything was arranged. The whole album feels like a percussionist just decided that was going to make pop album without really knowing how to play any other instruments in the pop style. So instead of figuring it out he just decided to write every instrument as if it were a percussion instrument. Blame my joy for this album on the fact that I’m a percussionist, but I have never heard a more percussive pop album ever (at least none that I can recall at this very moment) and he pulls off the percussive pop album exceptionally well.
I mean the melody parts are often played on a marimba or kalimba, not a keyboard. The guitar is occasionally just treated as another piece of the percussion having no other purpose than to blast a mismatching of notes as a percussive accent. And through fusing these elements (the percussion, the marimba’s and the discording guitar strikes) this intense contrast of beautiful and ugly noises begins to emerge and all of my expectations about what a percussive album can be are further blown away. Especially when you actually pay attention to how the music and the lyrics interact with each other, how chaotic the instrumentals become as his thoughts becomes darker and how everything brightens up as he approaches a point of peace with his psuedo-acceptance.
The lyrical content of the album is also spectacular. The whole thing seems to be structured around the death of a close friend, dwelling on the death and attempting to (though never quite managing to) come to terms with the death. Now whether that is actually what the album is about or whether Jonathan Boulet is just in a dark place right now and has decided to write a lot about unrest and death is hard for me to say… But I choose to listen to this album as if a narrative was intended. When you come in thinking about it in terms of ‘loss’ and ‘acceptance’ it becomes this fantastic expression both lyrically and musically about the pain of loss and all the unrest that comes along with such a tragic event. And with lines like this:
“We’re Calling out your name friend, You’re dead and your ignored” – FM AM CB TV
“You’re on the death, on the death, on the death express
That’s why we’re here, why we’re here, why we’re here paying our respects” – Hallowed Hag
“I’m not gonna run and hide. Leave you all behind
… that world’s still mine, yeah yeah yeah
I’m feeling Dumb, I’m not the only one, I’m not the only one” – Boneyard Home
“I don’t even know what I said, I’m not in control of myself” – Trounce
“I’m not asking for your blood, I just want some justice done
Oh my God, You are Dead! Oh my God you are Dead! Oh Why?” – Black Smokehat
“We’re all just waiting for the end to come
We’re just left dreaming what we could have done” – Piao Voca Slung
We are painted a picture where-in death and coping with that death is a very real struggle right now for the protagonist in this album, be it Jonathan Boulet himself or a fictional person. But regardless of the situation, this album is several different kinds of awesome, and if you have yet to hear it I strongly suggest getting your hands on this record as soon as possible!