Thus Owls album ‘Turning Rocks’ – an exploration in tone, colour and dynamics

Husband and wife Erika and Simon Angell make up the transatlantic duo, Thus Owls.

‘Turning Rocks’ is the band’s second album, a record that is an exploration in tone, colour and dynamics.

 

The band’s 2009 debut album ‘Cardiac Malformations’ was seated within experimental pop jazz. This time around they take inspiration from 60’s pop nostalgia, through its colourful structures, bright vocal arrangements and reverb-drenched harmonies.

First single is the Bat For Lashes inspired, imagination grabbing ‘As Long As We Try A Little’; a vibe felt again on ‘A Windful Of Scream’ with its slow burning vintage organs and modest harmonies. ‘Turning Rocks’ was recorded in Montreal where they brought on board Montreal keyboard player Parker Shper and drummer Stefan Schneider, along with Swedish bass player Martin Hoper, making for eccentric and lively musical styles. This can be heard on the European pop sensibilities of ‘Bloody War’ and ‘How, In My Bones’, with the bellowing vocal arrangements, psychedelic worldly percussion and unconventional double bass; the closest they get to the sound of their debut Thus Owls album. ‘Ropes’ is a perfect example of the band’s dynamics, taking you from understated vibrato harmonies and gentle grooving bass, to a haunting crescendo of off-kilter drums and evocative organs.

The intimate lyrics and animated sounds are inspired by Erika’s memories of her childhood home, a small house in a little village on the Swedish Island of Orust. These are brought to life by Erika’s tender and gentle voice and Simon’s rich and moody guitar tones. The Midlake folk of ‘Could I But Dream That Dream Once more’ creates a soundscape through the glimmering acoustic guitar, a simple manipulation of sound that works perfectly.

‘Turning Rocks’ is an experimental and vibrant record, one of good and bad memories, isolation yet togetherness. This is an album that could only have come from such a partnership.

words Alan Byatt

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