Generally when a band combines classical instrumentation with pop music, it is lumped into the orchestral pop or baroque pop sub-genres. Sometimes it is even categorized as pop nouveau. Then, on a rare occasion, an artist comes along that defies all these generalizations. Kevin Hume is one such artist.
It is important to note that Hume hails from Black Spartacus. While the name may have changed, the sound remains fairly similar to that of Hume’s previous project. Kevin Hume crafts songs that follow a more classical representation both in terms of how the music sounds and their makeup—The Truth About Ants & Aphids has twelve tracks, but these songs are grouped into four movements and Hume develops his songs as a skilled multi-instrumentalist. Still, an additional dozen artists join him throughout the album on everything from cello to viola to clarinet. There are even a few flautists, trumpeters, and a Celtic harp.
The first movement spans the first three songs, opening with “Curtain Number One”, a pleasant classical piece with folk-like subtleties, before continuing with the true folk songs “Fanfare for the Common Wolf Spider” and “Memories Undertow”. The songs lack much of the emotion found in pop music but maintain the story-like nature of true folk.
The second movement opens with another instrumental, though one with added brevity. “Glacier Bay” and “Towns Where We Live” follow, bringing in the first traces of pop melodies. Emotions are prevalent in both tracks, though the former is much softer than the latter. “Towns Where We Live” brings forth a heavier guitar sound, adding a Wilco-like electric guitar for an album high point.
“Pink Chrysanthemums” opens the third movement, continuing with the electric guitar found in its predecessor. The guitar is much less prevalent, though this instrumental is much more pop-like than the others. In “The Fauve”, Kevin Hume resorts back to folk; the flute and guitar giving the song a Celtic sound. “The Girl From Falling Water”, while adding somewhat of a pop melody, remains true to the folk sound of this movement.
“Yeoman’s Farewell” opens the final movement with a cello feature. The classical piece leads directly into the last song, a Celtic dance tune. Despite such an obscure array of sounds and influences, The Truth About Ants & Aphids is a delightfully well-put-together album. Hume has shown a mastery in crafting an album that flows perfectly from one song and one movement to the next.
This review was originally published April 2, 2007 on the old version of FensePost. Kevin Hume has since released Velociped, a free digital single recorded prior this album.
Kevin Hume: Towns Where We Live [mp3]
[audio:090704_kevin_hume_-_towns_where_we_live.mp3|titles=Towns Where We Live|artists=Kevin Hume]
Premium Fantasy [CD, 2007]
1. Curtain Number One
2. Fanfare For The Common Wolf Spider
3. Memories Undertow
4. Fantasia From ‘Feast Or Famine’
5. Glacier Bay
6. Towns Where We Live
7. Pink Chrysanthemums
8. The Fauve
9. The Girl From Falling Water
10. The Truth About Ants & Aphids
11. Yeoman’s Farewell
12. A Good Tailwind