|photo by Paul Stevens|
I've had to reconfigure interpretations of Ancient Language every year, as the project has grown in size, scope, and evidently style, bringing together players from the realms of jazz, ambient electronica, post-rock, techno-pop, folk...and wherever else... The six-piece Detroit ensemble released a new single last week called "no in / no exit" and its exemplary of the band's increasingly adventurous, atmospheric musical conceptions
Ancient Language perform Saturday, part of the 5th annual Hamtramck Music FestNew Dodge Lounge
with Brother Son, White Bee, and Honeybabe
The major operative is to build a swell of sounds that spread and envelop, evoking a sense of immersion into something..., well...., awesome. I don't mean awesome... I mean awe-some. This is the kind of song for quietly powerful spells, be it meditation, contemplation, or rejuvenation, be it morning, or be it just past midnight, it's a song that rewards anyone mindful enough to just stop the rest of their day's comparatively hurried blurs and absorb a song.
Fading in gently after an almost silent 10 seconds, a faint guitar drone brings you in until you're taken by the hand of a heavenly violin's saw that starts to curtain around a piano with a minimalist melody that sounds uncertain at first, before the guitar takes it over and matches its steps, soon to be propelled by the bass into more of a march. Then AL's poetic lead vocalist adds his poetic ruminations "Tough luck / in a life that's taken more than it could have / from a world that's slowly fading from the past..." and it cascades into the crest of a fill of percussion that only continues the arrangement's steady elevations.
Something erupts after the 3-minute mark. The six-piece symphony combines their intonations with this harmonic churn, edging on, ascending on..., and if you've got headphones at this point, then it's where the rest of the world can fall away as you start floating. A certifiably head-banging beat kicks in around the 4-minute mark but it pares away for just one more verse, for just one more precious moment where the violins and pianos can arc to the top, before another liftoff, with the beat coming back in--augmented by a sweet, emotive baritone sax.
It's all about atmosphere..., and yes, we'd normally call it post-rock. But with the sax, violins and vibes commingling with the guitar/bass/vocals, I'm going to call it post-baroque.... or....ethereal jazz.... or atmospheric-indie... Ya know? Let's hold off on categories until the late Spring, when this single will be joined by a full length album's worth of new songs.