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The Physics of Meaning

Snake Charmer and Destiny at the Stroke of Midnight

(Buhanan; US: 16 Sep 2008; UK: Available as import)

I have an older song by these guys, “Manhatten Is an Island”, that is extremely lovely. It also sounds kind of bedroom-ish; there’s Daniel Hart’s voice and his violin, but much of the rest of it sounds like the product of a guy who hears symphonies in his head and only has a Macbook and some software to translate it into reality. The press release for this album claims it is “fully orchestrated”, and it is, but unfortunately with it Hart’s ambitions have swelled.  Or maybe in context “Manhatten Is an Island” would have rubbed me the wrong way, too.

Your mileage may definitely vary, but when I read that Hart is also a playwright and that this was basically a concept album my eyes started to glaze over. Of course, that sort of thing can work out fine in the execution, but this is one of those albums where at every moment things feel Significant at the expense of just being songs. Prog rock fans who like their grandiose narratives cut with a bit of chamber pop sweetness may well find what they’re looking for here, but honestly even that description makes my teeth itch. Like many highly individual, florid bands, I find the Physics of Meaning (and wow, shouldn’t that band title have warned me) work best in small doses.


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