Monday, April 23, 2012

Organos - Concha

Durham's Organos is the brainchild of Maria Albani, member of Schooner and co-creator Minus Sound Research, an outlet for local musical artists to express their visual side. In keeping with that idea, Maria did the cover art for the new album, Concha, which appears to be some sort of goose/squid/phoenix rising out of the side of a woman. Whatever it is, it's very organic (no pun intended), like Concha.

Organos shows that you can do a lot with a little. Theirs is a pretty minimal sound, heavy on bass and many percussive instruments and noises. On the opener, First Night, Albani's mid-register voice is accompanied by high harmonies and breathy vocalizations. Guitar is more-or-less an accent.

That's the pattern for many of the songs. Nevertheless, the sound is still full, even on the basically a capella second cut, the very sweet Side Girl, in which only finger-snaps and wood-claps accompany vocals. Maybe the minimalism fills up the space because it's simply not what's expected. Off-kilter notes and harmonies, chaotic feedback, and minor keys abound on songs like the dark but emboldening Same Eyes.

The theme of inspiration and encouragement, often in the face of doubt, runs through that song and others. It'll Never Come begins with admonishments like "Hanging out in bars, aren't you too old / keep on messing up, haven't you been told", but quickly dismisses such nonsense with a forward-looking message, urging the listener to take chances. Sometimes you just need to light a fire. Fits and Fears returns (briefly) to doubt and insecurity, the atypical vocals sounding like a record speeding up and slowing down, perfectly capturing the theme of the song.

The closer, At the End of the Ride, stakes out more conventional folk territory on what is generally a pretty unconventional collection. With its quietly picked guitar, tinklings from a xylophone, and spare harmonies, it is both sad and beautiful. Despite the palpable sense of loss, however, it's yet another tale of moving on -- despite it all.

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