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Absolute Noon EP

Absolute Noon EP

Rather than launching onto the scene with a full length release like most bands do, Feathers is opting for the ease-into-things approach that others like Battles have done. On a strictly visual basis, the band sticks out in a good way, packaged in a beautiful (and brightly colored) letterpress case with artwork designed by Typestereo of Miami's Battlezine. Production-wise, the trio has also managed to tap the skills of a powerhouse combo, recording with John McEntire (of Tortoise) at his Soma Studios in Chicago.

So what of the music itself? It's densely arranged instrumental pop that glints with touches of lounge, jazz, and other flourishes. The main trio of the group (who play almost twenty instruments by themselves on the release) are joined by Matt Jorgensen (of Wilco), McEntire himself, and several other Chicago studio musicians for the layered release. The opening track "My Apple Has Four Legs" calls to mind the instrumental work of Stereolab as it swirls with layers of synth and farfisa while chimes, loads of percussion, electric piano, and even a sitar make an entrance. "Coral Fingers" brings some vibes and steel drums into the mix, and even without the studio association could probably be compared to a more breezy version of early Tortoise (think "Cornpone Brunch").

In terms of technical merits, the album is a knockout, with all kinds of overlapping melodies on different instrumentation played with a precision that borders on clinical at times. At the same time, the kaleidoscope of melodic elements is sometimes almost a deterrent as few of them stick around long enough or are strong enough to really draw in the listener. There's obviously a bit of a Brian Wilson influence at work (minus the vocals), and despite the beautiful production and presentation it feels like there's just a slight something missing from it all. Being just the debut from the group (and clocking in at a lean five tracks and just over fifteen minutes), it's obviously not their defining statement yet, but hopefully they mix it up a little more from here on out.

Rating: 6