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Harley Card: Hedgerow

Fiona Ord-Shrimpton By

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Harley Card: Hedgerow
Hazy summer sun and nostalgia, the album cover hints best at what the music of Harley Card sounds like (with the exception of the giant mirror-beach-ball-spaceship-portal thing—no idea).

Hedgerow is a contemplative and absorbing sound, reiterating guitar phrases across a wide harvest of colors and plaited exchanges. Hedgerow is a little knotty, in the sense of a moot undercurrent of gentle melancholy, after careful unraveling it's not hard to appreciate the calm and find an overall sense of well-being.

"Get There" reveals there is more beneath the summer sun than SP25 and a big umbrella. Django-lite guitar from Card, Jon Maharaj on bass (and bowed bass), Matt Newton on piano, Ethan Ardelli on drums, with fresh injections of sax from David French. The title track "Hedgerow" is also a little nostalgic—Card's guitar working a phrase that blends into the sax. Some kind of distorted waltz, contorting into a configuration of some part of "Starless and Bible Black" —a very sweet entwining. An uneasy feeling ensues but filters out to relief with a refreshing light touch piano solo and a return of the sax Bible-Black-like refrain, which is just about as upbeat as that phrase can go, a nice twist.

"Helicoptors and Holograms" features Card's enchanting melodies, Fabio Ragnelli's comfortable drum fills, Dan Fortin's tight bass shadow, with a distinctive Spanish flavour. "Flash Card Etude No.1" is a sophisticated flash card possibly played since the "Birth of Time," (made one editor reach painlessly back to their Stefon Harris Grand Unification Theory album at least.)

"Sophomore" starts with excitement and builds back to same over a series of inconclusive tensions. Climactic cymbal waves and bass solo feature, piano interlude breaks up the stress. Sax provides a positive dialogue with guitar, nice flow.

"Crossing the Berg" opens with broken glass type chimes reminiscent of huskie bells, harp-like guitar, piano and a flourishing deep bass clarinet. Much twinkling, string slides, anticipation, hovering, fathoms deep, echoes and distance. The heavy electric change at 2:15 is almost a different tune, but a neat surprise and worthy of a Pat Metheny intervention. Distortion guitar chaos inspires a sense of calamity. Good narrative, motion sensitive responses, constant bass, the guitar/piano/drums hitting against the unknown. Newton returns a sense of mysterious calm, with the exit same as the intro: grotto-esque, gentle and cavernous. A methodical and intrepid journey, the inclusion of free jazz helps center the solace of the bass clarinet, a whole act of peacefulness.

"Coalescence" resolves nicely, starting with a piano/guitar unison followed by bass and memorable dynamics on brushes and cymbals by Fortin. Cascades of guitar runs, spaced with bass and Rhodes create a dream-like quality; an escape tune. "The Brain Chain" is a leisurely stroll along the mind links with ample meanderings, featuring sax and guitar. French's soft tone sax introduces "Smutty Twig Men." Fender Rhodes hips the mindfulness up, in and out of the noodle. It's not too much of a stretch to imagine a Donald Fagen lyric over it.

"The Way" begins with a lyrical bass and a gentle rain of brushes and sticks. Harley Card drives a demanding solo voice to the end. In Hedgerow Harley Card presents a group of artists with complimentary facility and a new set of voices to listen out for.

Track Listing

Get There; Hedgerow; Helicopters and Holograms; Flash Card Etude No. 1; Sophomore; Crossing the Berg; Coalescence; The Brain Chain; Smutty Twig Men; The Way.

Personnel

Harley Card: guitars and loops; David French: tenor sax, bass clarinet; Matt Newton: piano and Fender Rhodes; Jon Maharaj, Dan Fortin: bass; Ethan Ardelli, Fabio Ragnelli: drums.

Album information

Title: Hedgerow | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Self Produced

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