05 December 2007

Helvetia

Prior to Monday afternoon, I had never heard/heard of Helvetia. Since Monday afternoon, I haven't really listened to much else. There's just a certain warmth and craggy fluidity pulsing through this Seattle trio's music that makes you want to stretch out and live inside your headphones. In fact, if Helvetia were an apartment, it would be the opposite of those stark, modern lofts lifted from the pages of Design Within Reach. Hell no. It would be one of those awesome brownstones with a roaring fireplace, ornate wood paneling and bookshelves filled with dusty volumes of lost classics where you would spend all night playing backgammon, drinking red wine and listening to records. Sounds nice, right?

This ability to create such inviting sonic environments may have something to do with their impressive pedigree: multi-instrumentalist Jason Albertini was a longtime member of Duster and both drummer Dove Amber and bassist Adam Howery perform in Arthur & Yu. Their music recalls Built To Spill, Flaming Lips, Comets on Fire and even early Sabbath and 70s stoner rock in some places. Perhaps best known for touring with Built To Spill in support of their 2006 debut album The Clever North Wind, Helvetia has readied a new album, The Acrobats, that will be released in March of 2008 in time for yet another tour with Doug Martsch and company.

Consider this an early warning then, because this album is fantastic. Recorded with Jim Roth (Built To Spill, Apostrophes) in his Seattle home studio, it boasts a throwback production quality - similar to that of the Dungen albums and Fiery Furnaces' Gallowsbird's Bark - where every guitar line is deliriously fat and fuzzy and bleeding perfectly into the crackling organ and cavernous drums. And ultimately, the guitar is king in Helvetia's world, pushed to the front to dictate melody, mood and dynamics. Alternately aggressively wah-drenched and peppered with deft jazz voicings and delicate flourishes, this is the sort of album that makes me wish it was standard practice to list effects pedals and setups in liner notes.

The prospect of seeing them paired with Built To Spill this spring should be enough for even the most casual of gunslingers (those of you still rocking Wolfmother on Guitar Hero) to consider revisiting the lost art of playing some live air guitar. While rocking out, you can thank Helvetia, just like the font, minus the c.

Listen:
"What It Did"

Visit Helvetia on MySpace.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

nice find. i hear george harrison and steely dan too

crustcake gerf said...

ditto. nice, organic sound.

Anonymous said...

Arg! That song is not the real "Harbored", and I can't find out what song it really is! Help!

Anonymous said...

the song is actually "what it did" nice review though..

Matt said...

thanks for the sleuthing! we simply called it what it showed up as according to the review copy of the album that we got. it has however been changed.

Anonymous said...

Thank You. Thank you From one Anonymous to another. I'm the first Anonymous who asked, by the way. Though of course I have no way of proving that.
And thank you Matt for posting!

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