There is a source in some high valley at the top of the earth that spills out sound like a breached dam every time the earth tips a little off its crooked course. I’ve never been but I hear it. It’s in the music that sounds instantly familiar while being new, carrying an exoticism that is self-defined, so that as I wonder at what I hear, what I hear comes to define the place of its source, unknowable until the moment of that thing, that liquid spirit, that exceeds the recognizable patterns of the simple modulation of air pressure inside my head.
Which is to say I now know something of Poland.
That something is newspaperflyhunting, whose new record Iceberg Soul flooded the Plain of Progarchy this weekend. It’s hard to make a record this strange and good, one tethered to its bit of earth while allowed to float free, to feel realized and yet maintain the rough edges of exploration. If Iceberg Soul compares favorably to certain predecessors — I hear an odd pastiche of Amon Duul II’s Carnival in Babylon and the Cranberries’ Everybody Else is Doing It, and even a touch of Lal Waterson’s Once in a Blue Moon — it may outdo these worthy companions in its marrying of songcraft and texture, where the resemblance to the great bands of California’s psychedelic revival of the 1980s and 1990s — Opal, Rain Parade, Mazzy Star, Thin White Rope, Green on Red come to mind — seems more apropos. Noisy electro-acoustic freakouts punctuate beautiful melodies and uneasy lyrical flights, the accented English toughening the song in just the same way Nico could, not fearing to sound lovely and unpretty. Repetition and drone play important, alchemical roles, and the opening “My Iceberg Soul” is bookended by the closing of “Your Iceberg Soul,” where the repeated title phrase turns through my head and into “your eyes burn so.” A slight black metal or goth current shades the music towards darkness, but the arrangements, which include Fender Rhodes piano, artfully blended vocals drifting in and out of harmony, and one of the most perfectly balanced mixes I can think of (maybe Gazpacho’s Night comes close), leaven the ultimate results back to something far more complex than any monochrome mood.
Not knowing anything about the Polish music scene or even its broader culture is, I recognize, a shortcoming in approaching Iceberg Soul, but I gotta tell you is also something of a thrill. I feel like there may be territory to yet explore, and in exploring perhaps I stumble upon a certain high valley….
Get it at bandcamp: http://newspaperflyhunting.bandcamp.com/