Monday, 9 December 2013

UNCONDITIONAL ARMS - ALBUM REVIEW

Unconditional Arms - Kinship 
Unconditional Arms - Kinship

When a child is born in to this world it is traditional to buy a present, send a card or just make ridiculous noises at an alarmingly close distance from the poor child's face. California man Jeffrey Wright, however, went one step further and wrote an album for his recently born son (Owen, since you asked). The six tracks that constitute 'Kinship' are a filmic representation of Wright's emotional state at the point of becoming a father, no doubt, but they are also potentially the most embarrassing 25 minutes that poor Owen will have to endure in his life. This is not because the music is bad, far from it, just because literally everything our parents do tends to be embarrassing at some point.

Starting out, fairly logically, with 'The Family Tree' Wright takes us on an undulating journey across a sea of guitars that chime and sing in a way that would make an ace lullaby for young Owen if it weren't for the crashing crescendo. 'Television On The Weekends' is sparser and more reflective in tone, like something the Arcade Fire might use as their walk on music to lull the crowd in to a stunned but attentive silence and state of awe. Up to this point there have been no lyrics and the crackly spoken word on 'First Look' don't really constitute lyrics but mixed with the ethereal melody it does sound like the world might sound from inside the womb. At this stage I can't help but wish I was so drunk or sleep deprived that I could switch off and focus on nothing but the music as this is perfect 'zone out' stuff from Unconditional Arms.

Not only does 'Transition and Finality' sound like the title of a lost collaborative work between Rush and Genesis, it's also a hugely prog influence piece of atmospheric soundscaping that leaves you in a desolate but cleansed space. 'Conscious Whirr' is, for me, the weakest song in this collection as it feels in dire need of speeding up but you can't win them all I suppose. The acoustic lightness of 'Rest' is at odds with the weight of the rest of this collection but it's a beautiful, spring garden piece of music full of hope, innocence and genuine wonder at what the world has to offer. I hope Owen doesn't grow up embarrassed by this as I think it's a genuinely heartfelt snapshot of time from father to son - better than any scrapbook or time capsule!



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