Big Farm - A New Genre
Big Farm's new album released on the "NEWAM" label (or "NWAM" as both spellings are listed, one on the spine and the other the back of the folder) is nothing short of astonishing. To say it grows on one would be an understatement. No track is like any other, and each has an individuality that makes the listener pay attention.
I find it impossible to categorize the sound, but this group of musicians is highly talented, highly trained and educated, and spurs both the imagination and the consciousness of the listener/reader. I say "reader" because Big Farm has provided the text of each cut in their booklet, not that one wouldn't understand what was being sung (or said), but it is interesting to read these "poems" while the context of the songs are forming in one's ears.
We are not told which of the four men who compose this ensemble are singing any of the tracks. That really doesn't matter as the mood of the 9 tracks passes from anger to passion to sorrow to longing. One track, Margaret Ballinger, was to me very evocative of a song from my youth: think "Eleanor Rigby" brought into the 21st century without the standard pop formula required of the Beatles in their time, and with an instrumental background which is both singular and interesting.
The vocals range from nearly spoken/yelled, rough and personal, to a clear, well-trained and beautiful counter-tenor. As I said above, one can't categorize Big Farm, but must give this album a listen. The addition of strings and a flute on one cut (that instrumental section edited by the violinist of that ensemble: I notice such things) gives a texture which is unique in the album. It is full of surprises.
I would see Big Farm live in a heartbeat, but listening to them on this CD means I have the pleasure of listening when and as often as I want.
Like An Animal
Yes, this is the set that Rinde Eckert told me was coming, with Steven Mackey on guitar and guest artists, and I didn’t realize it had really been released. And it is as strange and wonderful as you would expect. Eckert (he’s from Iowa, and hence, the farm, I assume) is a 2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist and an Obie Award-winner for his music/theater productions, which have toured internationally. His work, and the sounds of this band, cannot be categorized; it can only be appreciated for its relentless skill and daring and humanity.