ponedjeljak, 11. studenoga 2013.

Laughing Eye Weeping Eye - Beway (2013)

Teleportacija na tavan srednjovjekovne crkve na kojemu gnomi i zaboravljena djeca sviraju na harmonijima, prozorima, oblacima i vatrenim zmijama.



Laughing Eye Weeping Eye transports you to another place, perhaps inside a medieval church with ghosts, gnomes, and angels, or to a magick ceremony with fire-breathing serpents. Channeling old spirits into new forms, their music expands the language of vocals, harmonium, synth, and various instruments from around the world. 

"Beway achieves, in various forms, a sonorous, bewitching, and intrepidly daring level of sui generis noisemaking, carving out an odd, medieval-y quirk of a niche that the muse of wildest Canterbury must have reserved especially for them.... Beway is close to astonishing.... there simply won’t be anything like it heard this year." - Dave Cantrell, Caught in the Carousel

"Get medieval, indulge in the rites and rituals of Summer and turn back those hands of time with Laughing Eye Weeping Eye with their pagan-pageantry for Beway. The duo of Rebecca Schoenecker and Patrick Holbrook craft a call from the metaphysics of the ancients." - Sjimon Gompers, Impose Magazine

Chicago duo Laughing Eye Weeping Eye play with repetition and hymn, as antidotes to authority and institutions in their strange medieval, transcendental journey. Patrick Holbrook and Rebecca Schoenecker released their LP, Beway, on their own imprint, Hairy Spider Legs, and their work personifies the label’s aesthetic of folk experimentation and diverse vocal explorations.
Read as a journey, Beway delivers specific characters, settings, and conflict, ultimately facing off blood and redemption. Experienced as a series of drones, waltzes, and hymns, the duo exhibit little regard for genre or timbre constraints, and bask in acoustic and synthetic sketches. Their album can be long and complete, or short and disjointed, and after several listens, the listener’s grasp on the narrative might be more obscured than when they first began.
Passages of surprising instrumental violence are placed against lyrics of more tenuous origin, and workers’ chants trudge alongside divine ruminations. After a series of festive dance and male/female vocal trade-offs on closing drones for the first side, a wicked, saturated electric guitar pierces “Angel” and “Village” to open the second. Acoustic and electric elements are not always opposed, as synthesizer tones often  match the robust, airy harmonium tones used throughout the album. Percussion is happenstance, frequently delivered through the vocals as much as “things from the kitchen” (as the credits put it). This series of surprises follows the entire journey, as delightfully “homemade” stretches match exquisite compositions.
The two sides seem to explore feelings of determination and resignation, a sense of adventure that leads to an eventual endpoint. Swelling, oscillating synths and operatic vocals on the first side oppose chanting, labor, and dissonance on the second. Whereas the first side’s journey feels continuous, even harmonious, in terms of music, the second side’s continuity is in narrative, rather than musical terms. The identity of that narrative is disjointed and difficult to discern on the second side, as high-end, ethereal entities like “Angel” or “High Court” feel more like jesters, feudal workers, or nomads. Laughing Eye Weeping Eye effectively produce tension and suspense with these unpredictable, opposed elements.
Rebecca Schoenecker’s voice serves as a unifying theme throughout this tension. She plays with timbre, phrasing, and melody to produce vocal lines that carry the narrative. Frequently, choral arrangements emerge to produce patterned, slowly building movements, while Schoenecker’s solo voice is often whimsical and without conventional constraint. She delivers her vocals at extremely high pitches, and uses textures and rhythms that enhance a shrieking, joyful attitude. As the lyrical content opposes the musical developments at certain points, so too does Schoenecker’s performance add another dimension to the narrative progression of the album. Often, the sense of rhythm in the songs is carried or enhanced by her performance.
One of the strongest displays of melody appears between “Angel,” “Village,” and “High Court” on the second side. After the only extremely distorted, wild electric guitar tone on the album appears in phases, a set of matched, acoustic arpeggios return the narrative to its foundation. Bowed, waltzing strings engage these arpeggios, as new sets of lyrics and plot unfold. A dissonant solo on an acoustic instrument enters, another transition descends, this time into the droning delivery of “High Court.”
It is unclear who wins at the conclusion of the narrative. On “The Lamb,” our narrator notes, “don’t despair / When you face the / wrath Tho the blood / it falls / On the damned.” This mimics the imagery on the first side closing on “Knight:” “worry not though / blood shall soak / the fields.” Yet, it is not clear that the authority of King, Knight, Angel, High Court are the beneficiaries of the lesson. The closest hint is that our narrator is an angel, but the vocal deliveries, transitions, and experimentation suggest that the characters might not be what they seem. Either way, narrative unity need not be the lesson from Laughing Eye Weeping Eye. The lessons are more effectively taken from joyous folk experimentation that fluctuates between waltzes, hymns, and drones as readily as the stages change in the story. -    

   “Laughing Eye Weeping Eye transports you to another place, perhaps....... to a magick ceremony with fire-breathing serpents.”
Bleats the press release. But why would I want to go there when I could sit at home and watch ‘The Voice’ on TV? Ok then, if I really have to.
More entertainingly, on the back sleeve there is a picture of a man and a lady and the lady has a brilliant face painted on the back of her hair. This does nothing to prepare you for the music which is a swirl of harmonium and vocals which sound like they were recorded in the 18th century. It sits somewhere between the dark brooding of Nico, the bleak brooding of Zola Jesus and (on ‘Beway’) like The Sea Nymphs (aka The Cardiacs) attempting to replicate the soundtrack to The Wicker Man.
Phil is reminded him of some of the weirder elements of Kate Bush’s utterly brilliant ‘The Dreaming’ album. There are aboriginal type drum beats, screechy female vocals and a general unnerving air that would make me run for my life if ever approached to join their weird cult. On one track a lone drum is joined by scary recorders and a horse neighing itself to insanity. Phil likes it. He says its a bit like Espers, he likes the strange witchy ladies. I for one am terrified, I want to go home right now.  - Norman Records

Maybe it’s in their name but Laughing Eye Weeping Eye’s second album Beway is a work beset by a remarkable schizophrenia. For well over half this record the band (essentially a vehicle for Chicago artist Rebecca Schoenecker) achieves, in various forms, a sonorous, bewitching, and intrepidly daring level of sui generis noisemaking, carving out an odd, medieval-y quirk of a niche that the muse of wildest Canterbury must have reserved especially for them. It’s a traipse over mostly unexplored landscapes that nearly every other outfit going would have neither the nerve nor the talent to attempt. As to why they choose to drop a confounding black hole of flitting sonic dottiness two-thirds the way through, well, only goddess knows.
Let it be first and most loudly proclaimed, however, that at this LEYE WEYE (as they’re affectionately known) excel: soundtracking the abandoned cathedrals inside your head whatever they may contain: rabid pigeons, rabid lost flautists, defrocked priests preaching indecipherable liturgies, children’s choirs that took a wrong turn, kettle drums in cobwebbed corners pounded now and then by an unseen hand. Within that soundtrack are wooze-inducing synths that sound like drunken pump organs full of pomp and stumbling grandeur (“Sentient Being”); skeletal tribal drum and pan flute excursions with unhidden Slitsian allegiances (“Whodovoodoo”); doomful squeeze box vibes big and blousy enough to swallow sailors whole in their expanding/contracting folds before leading them to a near fatal beauty (“Wild Night”); earthen elemental campfire singalongs that are propelled by more of that accordion mayhem, sure, but also by mournful fiddles warning of danger, some off-kilter hand-clapping and flutes from a Navajo nightmare, during all of which you’ll be delighted – if not exactly surprised – to find a Raincoats memory sneaking in behind the vocals like an audio photo-bombing (“Beway“); female-monks-by-the-bonfire purity rituals attended by a quaver of angels (“Knight”) and plenty more twitches and glitches that lend these songs an uncanny sense of being sketches fully realized. The mood is becowled and spiritually elfin and never in those instances where LEYE WEYE follow their vaporous flying teapot jinn are they anything less than whimsically arresting and utterly riveting. It’s when they fly off that teapot’s handle and into the great maw of dabbly experimentation, however, that the plot that has been dangling so winningly by a string gets temporarily – and most decidedly – lost.
It happens, with a willful unexpectedness, a minute into seventh track “Angels,” when what began with the usual skewed and earnest coven aesthetic – ghostly if rather shrill vocals, an amped harp sound played with steel fingernails, an echoed chamber-folk ambience, all that – is brashly interrupted by a distorted psych electric guitar tone so sudden one checks to see if it’s the start of a new track. The change would be welcome were it to lead into something other than a free-form shambles anchored (if that’s the word) by a kazoo with violent tendencies. It’s a discordant dog’s breakfast with no relief, no redemption. Relief would seem to come with next track “Village”‘s soothing pluck of renaissance guitars and the gentle airs of Schoenecker’s lilty voice but it too soon unravels into an avant-nothing mess that sounds like nothing less than a Robert Wyatt headache made audible. Immediately thereafter, thankfully, we’re returned to the agreeably idiosyncratic, to the safety of the vaguely pre-Elizabethan sound collages that had lured us in in the first place, capped by album ender “The Lamb,” a swooning, luminous, masterful last stroke that leaves me near tears, its humming, deliberate beauty all a-swarm in Rebecca’s multi-tracked almost operatic choir trills, shivering the cathedral to its pitched, oaken-timbered ceiling, ending on a high note, ending on a high.
Aside from that minor drift into the plinky-plonk anarchy of the psycho-hobbit ward, Beway is close to astonishing, the uncompromised, adventurous work of an artist forever in child-like thrall to her rural Wisconsin roots, one fiercely endowed with enough courage as an adult to become a little unhinged expressing it. Beway warrants our attention, there simply won’t be anything like it heard this year.- Dave Cantrell

Where Snakes & Seers Go (2011)


"... every now and then, something really weird comes along and sweeps me off my feet, smothering me with smooches. That’s Laughing Eye Weeping Eye. This shit is wacky as fuck and it’s the only time I’ve deemed “freak folk” an appropriate & relevant descriptor." antigravitybunny.com 

“LEWE is intriguing for how it avoids freak folk mainstays like the blues and 60s folk, instead channeling a new set of sources yet to be tapped by any weirdos I’ve come across in the contemporary moment…. Weird like the vocals. Schoenecker’s creepy chirps, sighing glissandos, whiney drones and operatic falsettos. Weird like the instrumentation, pumped with a heavy dose of harmonium, harps, hand-claps and horns, tambourines, bells, flutes and fiddles (NOT violins…), etc. …Where Snakes & Seers Go triumphs due to the fact that it’s a good band, doing weird things in weird new ways, and doing all of those things quite weirdly-well. They make an unbearably creepy voice listenable, relatable. They put that voice into charming, inventive songs. Some of those songs are actually very, very beautiful—"River of Golden Treasures" is sleeping-tune mixtape worthy with its gorgeous, humbling melodic meditations. Overall, great new band…” – tometotheweathermachine.com 

"a tale where words celebrate, commune, play, enchant, make potions and color the ride you're taken on, where sounds make the unreal become reality… and the more i hear and feel, i grow a tail, some nice horns; i begin to twist and clap but mostly want to meow." - calmintrees.blogspot.com 

"Inspired by folk music and gospel singing, the music of Laughing Eye Weeping Eye sounds like little else around at the moment, blissful melodies sung and chanted, screamed and wailed, over a droning harmonium, handclaps, loops and toy instruments. Contrast the sweetness of album opener 'Venus' with the shamanic vibe of 'Chant', the former almost a hymn, sung beautifully, whilst the latter sees the vocals wailed like banshees, bringing to mind Larkin Grimm or Tara Burke. The rest of the album moves between these points, always interesting, filled with imagination, and well worth you time with 'On The Path', 'River of Golden Treasures' and 'Aye Yai Yai Yai' being particular favourites, the first of these sounding exactly like The Cherry Blossoms, so much so in fact that I had to check the personnel on each album to see if there was a connection, there isn't. Containing that same strange mystical vibe as early Incredible String Band offerings, 'Where Snakes and Seers Go' is a collection of songs that will curl up in your heart until it becomes an old friend." - terrascope.co.uk

Lies The Shadow (2010)


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