Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Darien Venture - A Kite, A Key And A Storm EP

There is a drawing from the 1750's of Benjamin Franklin, with his son William standing nearby. Ben is peering through round spectacles, dressed in a loose linen shirt, knee-breeches, a waistcoat and a skirted coat, with thigh-high stockings, buckled shoes and hat, standing in a lightning storm, flying a kite.  In his hand is a hemp kite string and attached to it is a key. We were taught that this is a depiction of how Franklin discovered electricity. 

Franklin is said to have received a good shock as the charge from the lightning strike came down the line and hit the key, but, the shock also turned a light bulb on above Franklin's head.  He realized he could catch the lightning in a Leyden jar. Franklin's experiment was edgy and dangerous.  Fearing public ridicule only his son was present when it occurred. An attempt to replicate it by Georg Wilhelm Richmann in 1753 cost Richmann his life. Franklin's death defying experiment led to capacitors, batteries and the myriad of electronics we now use in our daily lives.  It all started with just a kite, a key and a storm.

That is akin to what the Scottish band The Darien Venture's new seven track EP titled A Kite, A Key And A Storm really is - tools attendant to a pioneering experiment. The band is not the discoverer.  The listener is the discoverer.  The Darien Venture's two guitarists (David Martin and Liam Rutherford), bassist (Kyle Shields) and drummer (Johnny Beveridge) are the lightning.  Each musician sings and each adds his own charge to The Darien Venture's sound.  It is an aural onslaught that combines classic, pop and progressive rock with jazz and punk overtones.  It is infectious and often unexpected. 

The first track, "Bones," starts an EP long lesson in harmony and drums.  You have got to give it up for Johnny Beveridge.  The man lays down one powerful drum track after another.  The boys' voices are wonderfully intertwined. Although the track is almost four minutes long you will want it to continue for another thirty minutes.

On "Ho! Criminal Face" The Darien Venture juxtaposes a variety of crunchy rock guitar licks with Beveridge's unbelievable drumming, melodic voice textures, unusual time signatures and sonic interludes.  Put this one on continuous play.

With "1.21 Gigawatts" the band oscillates between ballad and driving rocker.  Rock solid harmonies, with a faintly traditional Scottish melodic feel, and virtuoso instrumental performances propel this track right into the listener's consciousness.

Punk sensibilities help "Catapult," an odd pop-ish love song. Despite (or because of) some profanity in the lyrics it is alternative radio candy.

It's neither one thing nor another, it's all of them at once.  That is the only way I can explain "Think-Thoks", a track that combines multiple themes and distinct sounds.  The band seems to have so many ideas that once in awhile, like with "Think-Thoks," they will throw them all together.  As a result, you get an aural onslaught that cannot be comprehended in just one listen.

A massive pop rock ballad number, "Tonight Matthew," is the penultimate track on the EP.  However, it is not the type of pop or rock that one would expect. It is more alternative, progressive, edgy and exacting.  It too contains new discoveries with each spin.

The EP ends with "Clock," the softest and most mainstream tune on the release.  Reverb-laden voices chant before this alternative pop rock ballad takes off through a waterfall of harmonies, paradiddles and licks.

A Kite, A Key And A Storm allows The Darien Venture to channel its lightning right to you.  So, go ahead, be like Franklin.  Experiment.   Give the EP a listen or two or three.  What you hear may shock you, give you a buzz, or it may even scramble your thinking about music.  However, rest assured, it won't kill you unless, like Richmann, you try to replicate it.

- Old School


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