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Far From Yokohama

Far From Yokohama

Last year, Pallin arrived on the scene as a duo with their lovely little debut album One Bedroom Apartment. A restrained mixture of simple tracks that moved along with cello and guitar (with the ocassional other instrumental flourish), it was a stripped-down affair, but the group did the most with their sound and created a memorable atmosphere. In the year since, it seems that the group has blossomed slightly more, adding a couple more members to the group (doubling size to 4), and filling out their compositions a little more, yet still keeping that warm restraint that made their first disc one of quiet beauty.

Opening with "Fog City," it's easy to hear that the style of the group hasn't changed dramatically. Still a cello and guitar driven track primarily, there is also some subtle persussion and keyboards that add a couple more layers to the mix and help to flesh things out a little more. Likewise, "Brooktrickle Creek" builds with some delightful play between guitar and cello while a slight patter of drums helps to provide a spare backbone to the track and a harmonica adds some fills during quieter moments. If you were a person who enjoyed the spare sound of their first disc, the new additions certainly won't be enough to distract, and in actuality add to lifespan of the disc a little bit because of the increased play between melodies.

Another thing that helps the release breath a little bit more is that the group seems to have lightened the sound of their work this go-around. Part of the mournful feel of their last release might have come in large part to the rather downcast feel of having a cello as one of two main instruments in the mix, and while it still features prominently, it doesn't have to carry as much weight. Even the aforementioned light touches of harmonica and quiet keyboards add a considerable amount of life to the recording, and it's inclusion helps to bring a few more genres into the mixture (like the smooth, almost jazzy feel of "Will It Happen To Me?" and the slight Appalachian toetapping of the album closer "Honeyboy Stomp").

Even with those tracks, though, the album is by no means a bubbly one. The long album centerpiece of "With Bells For Hooves In Sounding Streets," unfolds at a funeral pace, very slowly adding elements and then taking them out again without ever really reaching any sort of release (although the middle section of trumpet is a welcome ray of sun). In the end, it's 8 tracks and just under 40 minutes of nicely digestible instrumental music. The group hasn't gone out and done anything drastic for change, but they seem to be slowly adding ideas (and members) to progress their sound slightly. Another nice little release from the group, hopefully they just keep on developing their ideas further.

Rating: 7