Furniture - Twilight Chases The Sun [LP]
Album Review written by olibia
It is interesting, to open up the album to a chalk like picturesque depiction of a forlorn angel sitting at the edge of the yellow crescent suspended lamp in the swirly clouded night. The sounds of Furniture, an independent Malaysian experimental rock-sounding band is definitely fitting for the illustration. Twilight Chases the Sun is their very first LP released (after several compilations and such) and in this black and blue album, they have poetry woven into what sounds like the result of successful contemplation. Listening to this album makes me feel like digging out the likes of Mineral and Appleseed Cast to savour all over again. To those who prefer loud and heavy music, Twilight Chases the Sun would come across as chill out music, in an indie rock sense. Below is a track by track review of what lies beyond the careless strokes of the night scene.
Twilight Chases the Sun
The first one minute instrumental track had been done short to send the album on its way. Pretty sounding nevertheless, it is pretty with keys. Although the title album track is a separate track from the second one, it almost sounds like this one is somehow linked to the next. It ends with a short odd note hanging in the air and the second track starts almost immediately. Twilight Chases the Sun sounds good on its own, and even smarter with the coincidental or planned ‘continuing’ arrangement.
Song starts with a count from the drum sticks and guitars though loud, the effects placed on them somehow managed to create a soothing feel. Postcards then slows to a short quiet moment before the vocals break in. On first listen it is odd to hear how the lyrics are sung; in a whispery, featherlike sound. It is unique in a sense that although you can’t tell much about what places a voice like this can go but it still manages to gain acceptance in the overall composition. Somewhere in the middle of the track, xylophones creep into the arrangement. Well, that just makes Postcards sound even prettier, like beautiful in a resigned way. The tempo had been held in a balanced consistency throughout the entire song and it ends with more whispering, and then the final explosion of guitars. Despite being easy listening, the song on the whole still sounds like it has its indie rock value retained.
The vocals here are being played with again; this time round they sound distant and withdrawn, progresses with the xylophone again, and everything else. It is soft (and featherlike) and that goes on and on for quite a while. Comparing this track with the previous… there isn’t really much to compare actually. While the essence of this composition seems to lie with the lyrics, and the slowly built up arrangement of music to go along with it, they could have done much better, I feel. The monotonous ride finally breaks in the middle for a short while, with a livelier feel to the chords being thrown and played around with. Please blows out with parts that had come together in the beginning, but now fading away from the composition.
Tipperary – a town of south-central Ireland. If there is anything in this song intentionally composed to have a relation to what Tipperary, the town, is all about, I wouldn’t know about it. The lyrics are subtle as they are. ‘It takes the world to turn you around, and I’ve had all that I can take, of your unrelenting ways’. Just what did Tipperary do? Besides having being involved in the first world war. Anyway, this track begins with clean guitar, and then the two chorded bass accompanied by reverbs on the drums and a second guitar. Vocals come after a while, yet again that distant but not so withdrawn effect this time round. This is actually quite disconcerting, the vocals being masked and forbade of its natural strength. The bass had fit its scaling in all songs so far – there hadn’t been any over doing. The band feeds on the effects placed on all its keys and guitars and vocals. That is perhaps why I have started the review off by labeling them an experimental rock band. The singing here is minimal, Chasing Tipperary ends off after a period of instrumentalism.
I Am Ying
The plucking of the guitar and gentle keys start the track off, there is a faint violin-like sound in the background as well. It then advances out of the ‘intro’ and into a little lead guitar solo. I Am Ying sounds good enough with instruments on their own, vocals the bonuses. The tempo went from low to high and then low again, to introduce what sounds more like a whispery hum than singing. Then it goes into a frenzy yet again. Interesting how they chose not to use the same chords they used in the near beginning, had been kind of expecting them to, actually. The song then nears the end with a ‘climax’ and an ‘after-climax’. Cliché, but it works every single time.
Why is Adam King?
Why is Adam King what? The xylophone begins and it reminds me a little of Harry Potter. Not until this instrument that makes a scraping sort of sound came in anyway. Could be some effect mixer that is creating this… sound, which begins to sound more electronic in mid song. There is a tribal, (occult?) sort of feel with that and a touch of modernity induced as well. Different parts of the composition gradually start filling the space. This track is entirely instrumental. And odd. Oddly intriguing. Just look at the song title!
Hush, the Dead are Dreaming
Beautiful title, I have to give them credit for that. It starts with lonely melancholic keys and a guitar in the background. Another instrumental track, the arrangement of it is commendable, even if it is only the first few minutes. The composition is balanced and even, no one part is struggling to be heard amongst the rest. Again, the track sounds like an after-math of Why is Adam King?. It had ended on a loud note, and like the rest of their arrangements, Furniture seems to have a tendency to constantly play with the fast and slow tempos in a single arrangement. The drums and bass come in after the first third and they follow all the way to a major climax which had been successfully pulled off because they had it building in us right from the very start.
I don’t know about Lughnasa but there had been a play by a Brian Friel titled ‘Dancing in Lughnasa’. Lughnasadh, though, is a name that derived from an Irish god and that proves the Celtic harvest festival worth celebrating. ‘Dancing in Lughnasa’ had been a fictionalized memory of Brian Friel’s Irish childhood. Spot the similarities between this track and Chasing Tipperary! Even so, the weirdest song titles Furniture has given to their music. This track makes me think of flowers in bloom, rainbows, light rain drizzles on lush green fields. After a while into the song, the whispery voices are back again. There is more strength to them at the middle of the song. This time, there isn’t much of a climax anywhere in the composition. Instead, the keys came in and provided a grandeur kind of feel. Like as if it is time for more flowers to bloom in the fields? During some parts here, you could hear the vocals wavering a bit though. Ironically enough, as I had spoke of spring, the lyrics end off with ‘nothing ever survives’.
Now I’m Gonna Take A Vacation
Good on them, even though I am sure the song title isn’t meant to be taken this literally. The lyrics tell of a tiresome relationship. It starts out soft for a while before launching into a happy in the sunshine sound. The road to the end of the song is a pretty long one, perhaps in rhetorical sense, you have to work for your vacation. It worked towards the end with vocals and off beats from the drums, guitars and bass, and the psychedelic sounding keys.
Talking about a long end, the final track is a 11:17 minutes long track. Fin, possibly a short form for finish or finished, ties together with a hidden track titled Sleep Dreamless Sleep. But that later. Fin starts off with a slow course of guitars and drums in off beat, bass mellow. And there is the starry night feel to it all, probably due to the reverbs in the sharp notes of the guitars at the middle of the track. The xylophones were drugged (with effects) and the emphasis of the starry night climaxed at the near end. And they continued to be drugged, accompanied by the creation of an effect mixer, until the hidden track surfaced close to the tenth minute. Clean plucking on the guitar with whispery vocals, and here comes the xylophone again. It is more like a lullaby actually, as it ended quite abruptly.