04 Oct Modern Classical Music: The Last Bison
I have spent a lot of time scouring Noisetrade, Youtube, Reverbnation and the like getting really excited about a song from this or that band, the most recent single from an artist I’ve always loved, or the impressive production quality of otherwise mediocre songs. However, it took hearing about and listening to The Last Bison to remind me again of the difference I used to seek out between a song, a single, and a composition.
The art of composition is, to me, what separates a pop song, a.k.a. (in many cases) a powerful marketing tool for a brand/artist, from a true piece of art. And the “fill-in-the-blank” approach that plagues the Top 40 Charts is not conducive to the moments of a true composition, where elements of the music can interact, ebb and flow, and break the formula in not just creative, but emotive ways.
Now without further ado, my 7 Favorite Moments from The Last Bison’s recent release, VA.
1) Cypress Creek (0:07-0:23) Not to downplay the greatness of the first two tracks, but personally the moment this violin melody came in was the moment I realized this album wasn’t going to let up after the two singles. I was poised to rewind just to hear it again when the vocal came in, and caught me off guard with the change in delivery. Speechless I was.
2) Governor’s Son (First Verse) I may have gotten a couple words wrong, but these are just the beginning of a great lyrical tune.
Pray, pray for the governor’s son/ He has a secret can’t keep his tongue/ She wasn’t really listening the first time that he slips a “Praise the Lord”/ Hey, hey please don’t tell anyone/ What she found out she was bound to tell some/ These things they spread like fire to the ears and mouths of all those who have heard
3) Endview (1:32) This song is characteristic of the album, in that the second verse is rethought to create a new atmosphere around the same melody as the first. No copy and pasting here.
3b) Endview (2:46) I was enthralled with this song from the first descending piano scale, and this moment couldn’t be passed up for its sheer perfection…the vocal treated as an instrument and laid side by side with the ever-pleasant violin…I imagine the vocalist singing a melody she thought would sound nice on violin, then the violinist thinking a harmony might sound nice…and then that moment when they played/sang together, and everybody in the room stopped cold and knew…
4) Maroon (0:38) It’s the little things, man…those moments you know they look forward to every time they play the song, and that, while not in themselves PROOF of classical leanings, you know just wouldn’t be the same without such a well sculpted composition around them
5) Burdens (3:00) From the first time the chorus came in, the halftime felt like the high after biking full speed up a hill, and finally, effortlessly coasting across the plateau. If the other choruses were smaller hills, this last chorus is the highest mountain in the range; the slow, deliberate approach that you know is coming, but with no diminishing of the floating, weightless feeling when it finally arrives.
6) Sleep (0:00) Yep, from the very start. Could’ve just started the song at :23, but they took the time to build and establish an atmosphere rather than just introduce a chord structure.
7) Come What May (3:00) They dug deep into their bag of classical tricks again and chose, where they could have just ended the song, to continue the movement. The trio of piano, cello and violin swell and die until nothing is left but a shrill, thin violin; it feels the struggle of a sinking ship, with the last note as the last bit of the ship to be silently submerged.