Saturday, October 24, 2009

Hexlove - Harp Drafts

Drum music. The prospect can strike fear and hope in your heart at once. Zac Nelson's Hexlove project is apparently worthy of the hope option. The phrase "drums at the forefront" caught my eye on the WFMU write-up for Harp Drafts on the Free Music Archive. I gave in, checked it out, and am currently being pummeled by warm, room-reverberated drummings, off-the-cuff and accompanied by (pre-programmed?) synthetic harp pluckings. What if you went to a local show tonight and during sound check the drummer when prompted by the unamused sound man plays not just the single bass drum, then tom, then snare, then whole kit, but starts feeling it out all at once. Playing deliberately, analyzing every strike, the reverberations, the vibration coming up through his/her throne and back into the legs. The sound check melts from the mundane, peremptory showings-off of a shirtless drummer into a space-age romance of drummer and drums, the bouncing echoes of harp a backdrop for the intimate workout taking place before your ears and eyes. This is "Harp Loves" the lead-off track.

"Harp Loves II" crawls in and suggests a new, larger headspace. The drums sound like they're elevated now, dozens of feet above you and a distant, thick organ drone urges the drummer on. Do not stop. This is your life's work. Like a beat-powered sojourn to a far off land, where some fantastic and dangerous task awaits. Nelson is relentless, he searches for every variation, every new pulse and tap he can add to each measure as it rolls by, just moderately, but constantly. Until he stops, and now only the organ drones on without him. Nelson must be doubled over his kit, heaving deep breaths. "It was just too much, I couldn't do it." And he looks up to see the organ's last warmth drift away.

Oh, but now something different. A battle, imminent danger. But Nelson is not afraid. "Harp Rich" is athletic mastery. Rolls of thunder and martial efficiency against the background of sage harpistry, a kind, ambient confidence. Foes are cut down mercilessly, but with respect. But this battle is over quickly.

"Harp Poor" is also a masterful exhibition, fills and splashes that roll like water. The plucky harp echo-ings are replaced here by the organ's wash once again. The rolling drums give way to a steady pulse, the hi-hat hissing on each upbeat, and then the thunder re-emerges, until the drumming ceases. Nelson's sudden drop out of the mix, leaving the organ alone to soon be joined by the harp, leaves you with a serious feeling of victory; the dust settling over hacked and slashed enemies, beads of sweat on the hero's brow, but no emotions betrayed, a solemn face, duty fulfilled.

No comments:

Post a Comment