Monday, January 07, 2008

Music Review: "Ongiara" by Great Lake Swimmers

I came about this music from Great Lake Swimmers in an odd way. First, the cover art totally captivated me. Second, I read its review by a trusted source (thank you, Sid!). Now I present my own thoughts.

The opening “Your Rocky Spine” jarred me, not in the sense of volume or verbiage but in being totally unexpected. Such is the nature of expectations, so this is a good thing. Its description of the Rocky Mountains as flesh and blood is amazing.

The description for the album is “ambient folk,” and one best get prepared. If you don’t want music to set your mind adrift, definitely listen elsewhere. But when you do, this is spellbinding. Each song sets a mood, creates a scene and takes you through it, mostly in a melancholy manner. Song titles such as "Backstage with the Modern Dancers" and "I am Part of a Large Family" aptly describe the atmosphere inside. Tony Dekker’s voice does take some getting used to; it reminds me of a cross between early Neil Young (think Buffalo Springfield days) and early Jon Anderson (think Yes). But it is always appropriate to the moments captured. The mostly sparse instrumentation allows your own thoughts to fill the gaps.

As the cover depicts, Ongiara is like a thermal-climbing raptor: circling, riding the air, searching. Just be sure you are ready to go along.

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