Bright Eyes continue the exploration of mortality through the conduit of spaced-out balladry on latest single One and Done. The instrumentation on this track ranks alongside Bright Eyes’ very best. String and horn sections arranged by Nate Walcott add a cinematic element which sits as an ideal backdrop to Conor Oberst’s cryptic lyrical vignettes.
The track opens with a disembodied voice announcing that he was just “dreaming of you”. The dystopian images of famine, societal breakdown and old friends in low places suggest that Oberst may have eaten too much cheese before bedtime, however. The feeling of a dream is cemented by the influences drawn from Bright Eyes back catalogue. One and Done could’ve slotted in nicely on 2004’s Digital Ash in a Digital Urn. The orchestral arrangement is reminiscent of Cassadega era Bright Eyes. The echoed drums subtly nod to Approximate Sunlight from their last outing, The Peoples’ Key.
Once again, Flea is on bass duties, provided a subtle, yet funky foundation which keeps the track bouncing along throughout the chorus and instrumental breaks. The verses exist as a dirge, with Oberst listing terrifying news almost as casually as society has come to accept it. This building tension is released with an upbeat chorus, with backing vocals by Miwi La Lupa adding texture to the brighter sound. A stirring orchestral break gradually leads to a crescendo of strings and drum rolls which sounds truly epic. Without disregarding the quality of the previous two singles, One and Done seems like an obvious choice for a lead single.
Just like those preceding singles, Persona Non Grata and Forced Convalescence,One and Done zeroes in on mortality and loss. The lyrics here deal with acceptance of the fact:
“This room seems even smaller now than I remember it Hung mirrors on the walls and the ceiling There’s no disguising it There’s no denying it This little box fits everything there is”
Obersts scoffs at the “masochists all celebrating love”at a wedding, ponders the paradoxical infinity of “fleeting moments” and seems to question if he’s too fixated on how it’s all going to end —
“I’ve seen the sparkle of the diamonds on the watch of the emcee It’s not keeping time, just shining”
For now, Oberst, Walcott and Mogis’ comeback continues to shine.
i am the first stretch in the morning
the first drag of your cigarette
i am the love you can’t deny
the sharply drawn breath
i am the sweat upon your brow
the gravity that holds you down
i am the anchor in the port
the decanter’s sediment
i am the earth ambling around
the sun, for fun, i’m infinite
oh little emperor
born with blue blood
basted in gravy
born with green envy
in an amber room
oh little emperor
this hand you’ve been dealt
could only be felt by your fathers
the weight of the boulder of sisyphus
upon your pygmean shoulders
when you grow bolder, iniquitous
when you grow older meet syphilis
a swollen piggie lays dead on the floor
a little emperor – no more
Influenced by modern day titans such as T47, Paula Temple and Umwelt, Buachaill Bán’s debut on Ireland’s Sweet Tooth label is a tour de force of ferocious techno.
Hunger kicks Ancestry off with a bang and immediately sets the theme of primal needs and urges to be drawn upon throughout the EP. Featuring crisp hi-hats and masterful shifts in dynamics, the production really shines through on the opener.
The relentless thump of kicks, bass and menacing call and answer synth lines triggers the adrenaline of a hunter about to spear his prey.
Instinct features a rolling triple kick drum pattern which sends the listener down a mine-shaft in a rickety cart. The rhythmic style here aims to repeatedly prepare the listener for the next bar, creating a relentless banger.
Throughout the short-player, affected atmospheric noise is used to great effect, capturing the industrial sound in all it’s scraping, hammering glory. There are moments of respite in the form of Homecoming, an experimental cut which takes the finger off the trigger before Offering delivers the kill-shot with an expansive, floor-filling sound to round off an impressive debut.
The concept of this EP is tied together in a way that is often missing in electronic releases. The consistency of the sound palette and theme makes, together with a carefully paced track-list makes Ancestry an immersive listen from beginning to end, whether listened on high-end speakers or ear-buds.