7 Year Rabbit Cycle Ache Horns

[Free Porcupine Society; 2006]

Styles: experimental, post-rock, indie rock
Others: Deerhoof, Gastr Del Sol, Aerial M

Helmed by husband and wife Rob Fisk and Kelly Goode, both former Deerhoofers, 7 Year Rabbit Cycle's cast of fairly variable members also includes Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart and experimental drummer extraordinaire Ches Smith. Much of the music on Ache Horns has a definitely improvised though restrained feel, with sparse instrumental lines interweaving with free jazz drums and periodic sections of boring-to-neutral speak-singing (mostly via Goode, but other members chime in as well). Take the opener, "Untitled," for instance. It's a two-minute vibraphone exploration that's fairly pleasant, but doesn't have any apparent structure. But this appearance is largely deceiving. The skeletal music offered is actually quite delicate and precise, as is evident the more I listen to it. This comes through particularly on the long slow-burners like "Puppies," "1234," and the ever-so-pleasingly-titled "Magic Yam Part 2." These pieces necessitate much forethought in order to make them work.

However, is the forethought worth anything if the music is rather hard for the vast majority of listeners to ever appreciate? The lyrics, while printed in the inner sleeve, are rather inscrutable as well. I can appreciate intelligent musicians being fed up with the standard forms and styles available to them, and for that reason, I'm a rather avid (at least in theory) proponent of experimentation. Yet I like experiments best when they can still connect with a willing listener. In my estimation, the open mindedness and patience necessary to listen to Ache Horns is unlikely to yield a reward for all but the most misanthropic — those who want to feel alien to the concepts of music that even a small pocket of society embraces. It's experimentation for the experimenters' sakes rather than to achieve any more substantial or 'authentic' mode of communication with an audience. Live, this may be overcome if the band has the knack for connecting with spectators, but on record, it's fairly distancing and somewhat disappointing.

1. Untitled
2. Puppies
3. Pirate
4. Historic C Ranch
5. 1234
6. Wren (original words by Shel Silverstein)
7. This Makes Me a Barn Burner
8. Magic Yam part 2
9. On a Lake of Blood in a Boat Made of Skin
10. Ciabatta