Last week I raved about the new album by Willie Nile, a guy that released his first album 33 years ago in 1980. Today I’d like to turn you onto another new album, but this time by a more contemporary artist – Typhoon.
Typhoon is an 11 piece band out of Portland, OR that is the creative outlet for Kyle Morton and their new album is called White Lighter. The band has previously released another album and an EP.
You can’t really grasp the full impact of the new set without hearing the back story. As I understand it, Morton has suffered very serious illnesses through most of his childhood, including multiple organ failures (he received a kidney transplant) caused by a serious case of Lyme disease that went undiagnosed for a long time.
In interviews and website letters to fans he has often referred to his numerous near-death experiences and how they affected him. These experiences clearly inform many of the songs on White Lighter. But although themes of death run rampant throughout the set, it isn’t without optimism. The large band that includes a string section, a horn section and two drummers is used effectively to convey a positive message in spite of the underlying grief.
My favorite cut is “Young Fathers” – the SotW.
The song begins with a spare acoustic guitar and vocals but soon builds more layers than a wedding cake. They fit together as tightly as pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. The intricate arrangements hold your interest because you just can’t predict what’s going to happen next. In that way, this orchestrated pop music reminds me of the best recordings by Sufjan Stevens (Illinoise?).
If your musical taste expands beyond two guitar, bass and drums, 4/4 rock & roll; give this a listen. You won’t be disappointed. The band will be playing the Austin City Limits festival in a couple of weeks. If any of you are attending (and I know some of you are) make sure you go to see Typhoon.
Enjoy… until next week.
So, I’m trying to sort this out. Like Arcade Fire, kind of, in the layered sounds, lots of musicians with lots of parts, but these vocals are way more assertive and sing songy. Which is good (compared to Arcade Fire).
But they’re not so anthemic as Arcade Fire, which probably isn’t as good.
And I’m not getting what they’re arguing so forcefully for, though maybe upon some more listens I’ll get there, but that leads to another problem.
Music that is constantly changing meters and contexts requires attention, or maybe it’s better said that it eschews the background.
In other words, it’s art music. I often like art music, I admire Sufjan Stevens Illinoise, but I have to live in it more before it grabs me. Another comp is Lamb Chop, a big collective led by a charismatic voice. I saw them as an opening act some years ago and was impressed by their sound live, like maybe I would be with these guys, but never really liked the recordings.