All Tiny Creatures- “Dark Clock”
Barreling down I-25 at 80mph is a strange place to experience a collection of music. The sophomore offering from the Wisconsin’s All Tiny Creatures, “Dark Clock” on Home – Tapes, is by no means easily overlooked. Following the critical success of the band’s 2011 release “Harbors”, Thomas Wincek (Volcano Choir, Collections of Colonies of Bees) and friends have answered their previous effort with vigor, laying down a ten track collection of expansive music wrapped in experimental majesty.
Skilled in the art of arpeggiation, vocal harmonies that are imported from a galaxy far, far, away, as well as a fundamental understanding of structure embolden many moments of sheer cosmic joy, this band has produced a record that draws the listener in from the very beginning. Applying the accelerator while simultaneously being introduced to the first track “Comets”, I felt an unshakeable sense of urgency assert itself as I was lifted out of my surroundings. Sweeping vocals coupled by climbing resonance abounded, which appeared as if they would never plateau. This introduction felt like a familiar touch, displaying attention to kaleidoscopic dissonance that fans of the band acknowledge as a trademark.
Drifting along, bouncing synth heavy architecture in the style of New York’s favorite experimental trio Battles make their eclectic mark on the track “A Lone Sound”, a sharp turn from the more subdued shimmering additions found on “Harbors”. Having earned my full attention as I gripped the wheel, I was struck by the sonic distortion of “Impossible Season” with its lyrics chronicling a lament for the adjournment of summer with “now you take it away” repeated and repeated with sequenced precision. It wasn’t until tracks “Chase Lights” and “Wave Particles” that I was able to determine how prodigious this cluster of music really was. Crushing, undefinable instrumentals on a glittered bed of 80’s synth glory matched with soaring vocals felt like the confluence of old and new, impeccably achieved on a mammoth scale being no negligible feat. Layers and layers of loop soaked summer inspired progressions caused me to slow down and decipher the maze around me. In particular, the track “Wave Particles”, channeling ambient undertones steeped in pulsing electric force, is impossible to ignore. In stark contrast to the past, here we see a band that is proposing to break through the earthly realm. The song crescendos into an almost infinite ascension, the likes of which I hoped never would end.
Thoroughly affected at this point of my drive, the final track on 2013’s “Dark Clock” brought me back down to the terrestrial level, after spending the majority of my journey floating in a galactic trance. “Reunion”, hit me especially hard. A deeply nostalgic bass drum and clarinet driven alien waltz, here we again see on a formidable relation of the quartet’s prior releases, with droning melodic vocals honestly and accurately professed.
Surrounded by silence, I had forgotten where I was heading with such urgency. Through the cascading projections of the minds of these young men, I found myself obligated to revisit this record, in order to bathe in the astral visions successfully produced. I knew that when I reached home I would lay down and listen to “Dark Clock” again. This time in absolutely no hurry.
Review by Bobby Mohar