Half-Handed Cloud Thy Is A Word and Feet Need Lamps

[Asthmatic Kitty; 2005]

Rating: 2.5/5

Styles: progressive twee
Others: Mount Eerie, Elephant 6

First of all, let me get this out of the way: John Ringhofer sings just like Phil Elverum. Not only that, but he takes the same restless tact to his song production. They simply won't hold still and never stop with the twists and turns. But while Elverum is more likely to be melancholic, noisy, and occasionally dark, Ringhofer is most often upbeat and undeniably Twee in his melodic approach. There may be somber moments, but they always seem to prelude another sprightly gallop into the light.

The high-pitched vocal delivery was what gave me pause in the beginning with The Microphones, but I grew to appreciate it in respect to its correlation with the artist's sprawling musical imagination. Ringhofer's got a similar dichotomy going, which leads me to question my nagging distaste as I listen. What's so bad about it? Nothing, really. It's brilliant in its unpredictable shifts and vast variety of instrumentation, and holds one interest without fail. But this sprawl can often begin to feel somewhat self-indulgent as you realize that, as a listener, you fail to retain any of it. It's like a pocketsize version of Yes, where no idea is too good to break it off with another one.

Yes, at their best, understood the value of repetition. Which is why they never crammed six albums worth of material into thirty minutes (though they could've). I'm incredibly impressed with Ringhofer's technical acumen, but given his impatient approach, his music begins to feel slighter than it actually is. Elverum's work, while equally full of twists and turns, actually manages to stay with you on some level. That, and his songs were occasionally allowed some breathing room. He didn't have to be singing all the time. I think Ringhofer will blow a lot of people away; but unless he manages to make actual songs and not a series of ear-perking incidental snippets, I think staying power will elude him with regards to audience. As a result, I can unfortunately only half-heartedly endorse his music.

1. You Get a Horseshoe
2. Mud...
3. Out of Crudeness: Healing
4. Let's Go Javelin'
5. Ezekiel Bread
6. The Famine's Hard
7. Flea Market Temple
8. Pup-Tent Noah
9. Grandfather Foreskin
10. Quail
11. Thumb/Toe Collection
12. Animals Are Cut in Two
13. Disaster Will Come Upon You and You Will Not Know How To Conjure It Away
14. Jael Peg Caper
15. Everyone Did What Was Right In Their Own Eyes
16. Considered It a Loan

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