Monday, February 4, 2008

Radicalfashion - Odori

(01.2007, Hefty)
Verdict = Piano Essentials

As a self ascribed diction geek I often grasp onto certain new words and phrases that I read in various texts and have the compulsion to write them down, cataloging interesting word usage. It hasn’t really served a specific purpose, aside from pacifying my occasional literary OCD, until now. A certain descriptor used by Alexander Pope to describe the fantasy creatures like nymphs, pixies, gnomes and the like seems completely and unequivocally applicable to Radicalfashion’s Odori. He didn’t originate the term, but 'machinery' as a literary device harkening fantasy creatures just seems so perfect in its double meaning here. Radicalfashion seems the product of this specific 'machinery.' The album is piano based but flourishes with several electronic treatments including several magnificent uses of samples. Despite the strength of the electronic decorations, Radicalfashion’s piano remains the back bone and tonal thrust of the tracks. The piano playing seems stridently unique among peers, being played with a much more apparent classical background and technique. Radicalfashion also never submits to falling into the plaintive minor chord piano loops that seem to be flooding the home listening market as of late. No, Odori is constantly marked by light plucked agility and harkens tiny, magical fingers. The playing also marks a range of moods that seem to flutter about with an odd magical proficiency. It is as if that ‘machinery’ was at work in the album’s creation, not overly grandiose, but like Pope had written of his precious 'machinery,' it feels like it was played by a "light militia of the lower sky." The dualistic implication of machinery also applies to the robot-esque samples and electronic fuss that occasionally clouds the tracks. I don’t mean to appear well read or particularly insightful, because I am far from either, but I do mean to assert that this album is completely out of the ordinary for someone who listens to an over abundance of music. The last time I think that I was charmed like this was the first time I heard The Books. It may not be entirely unique in its instrumentation or methods, but in the success of its aim Radicalfashion’s Odori is virtually unparalleled.

-Mr. Thistle

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