Album Reviews

Anathallo: Floating World [Album Review]


In 2005 it was Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s unprecedented sale of 25,000 plus self-released albums sold out of an apartment in New York that had the world ranting and raving. In 2004 it was Arcade Fire’s Funeral that had people talking. In 2002, The Polyphonic Spree took the stage with their countless numbered choir in creepy white or pastel colored cult-like robes. Those years have come to pass, but the bands remain prominent in the minds of music fans. So who will be the act to stun music fans in 2006? Let me introduce you to that band—the group everyone will (or should) be talking about in the years to come: Anathallo (MySpace). Yet this Mount Pleasant, Michigan group already has numerous releases under their belt, dating back as early as 2001. So why haven’t you, or I, heard of them before?

In line with the Spree, Anathallo takes advantage of multiple vocalists, though they all play instruments as well—ranging from flugel horn to Velcro strips. Flugel horn is a rarity in all but classical and jazz music, which makes its appearance here all the more wonderful. Its near classical use in “By Number” fits so well that it knocked me off-guard in such an abrupt manner that I was left breathless, especially once Matt Joynt’s so clean and crisp they’re fit for radio vocals kicked in. “Hanasakajijii: Two: Floating World” has a breakdown that could be a talented high school jazz band warm-up, with a growling trombone, obscure squealing sounds, and a mishmash of random beats, vocals and rambunctious noises. The backing guitar half-way through ”Hoodwink” could be straight from instrumental geniuses Explosions in the Sky but for the backing orchestra and vocals. And there will likely be countless Sufjan references as well.

It is impossible not to be continually astonished by Anathallo’s post rock sound. Each time I place Floating World into my CD player I hear something new, take in a previously unnoticed aspect of each tune, and step back at the surprising sound—despite having listened to the album more than a dozen times. Take the near a cappella harmonies in the middle of “Dokkoise House” and the following use of stomp boxes in the second half as an example.

In an album so refreshingly and holistically unique it hurts, it’s no wonder they call themselves a “marching band gone haywire.” That said, hearsay labels Anathallo as a must-see live band. But for Floating World, the release is a music lover’s dream wrought with music theory, a work of art in and of itself, an absolute must-have that is likely to enter many top 5s, 10s and 20s for 2006.

This review was originally posted June 7, 2006 on the old version of FensePost.

Floating World by Anathallo

Artist Friendship [CD, 2006]

1. Ame
2. Genessaret (Going Out Over 30,000 Fathoms of Water)
3. Hoodwink
4. By Number
5. Dokkoise House (With Face Covered)
6. Hanasakajijii (Four: A Great Wind, More Ash)
7. Hanasakajijii (One: The Angry Neighbor)
8. Inn (Howling)
9. Hanasakajijii (Two: Floating World)
10. The Bruised Reed
11. Yuki! Yuki! Yuki!
12. Hanasakajijii (Three: The Man Who Made Dead Trees Bloom)
13. Cuckoo Spitting Blood
14. Kasa No Hone (The Umbrella’s Bones)

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