[17 August 2009]
We probably wouldn’t be writing about Blind Man’s Colour except, well, someone over at Kanye West’s blog posted about them in February this year. The previously unknown duo of 19-year-olds from St Petersburg, Florida quickly gained the notice of the blogosphere, partly because their music fit in with the Panda Bear/Animal Collective craziness that was going on at the time. Kyle Wyss and Orhan Chettri, two college students who’d been making music together since childhood, caught on a moment—and now their previously-recorded debut LP is getting a wider release courtesy of Kanine Records.
That’s a good thing, because Blind Man’s Colour could have something new to say—in a record or two’s time. A true corollary, perhaps, of ‘band to watch’ is, yeah, ‘not quite there yet’. And with the cycle of hype/backlash compressed into a miniature timeline, you worry that the weight dropped on these guys, when it comes, may really be unfair. We already know they’re talented. “Heavy Cloud Hustle” and “Jimmy Dove”, the two tracks that were distributed widely at the time, were enough to convince people about that.
And we already know they’re cognizant of where they’ve come from. Before they were Kanye-approved, even, Blind Man’s Colour were a name associated with Collected Animals, a fan covers album of the songs from Merriweather Post Pavillion which was collated first just a few weeks after the album leaked back in October, 2008. The competence of their versions of “In the Flowers” and “Brothersport”, in particular, was an early indication that these guys didn’t mind the comparison. Instead, they were talented enough to take inspiration from the idea, rather than the nuts and bolts. Basically, yes, Blind Man’s Colour sound like Animal Collective, but they’re more straightforward, less technical.
The aesthetic is aquatic, evenly split between out-of-time seascapes and pulsing 4/4 dance that pushes steadily ahead. The best material finds a medium. “Warm Current’s Pull” takes one of Panda Bear’s melodies and builds it from sedate ballad to overwhelming layer-on-layer synesthesia. “Ghosts”, which may be their most complete composition to date, shuffles through a number of related ideas, wrapping them all in a comforting cloak of synth goodness. “The Dinosaur Ride”, chugging over acoustic guitar eighths, has a little twist of time signature at the end of the phrase that effectively distracts from its white-noise, low-fi haze.
Throughout, Blind Man’s Colour’s production, which often billows out into boom and fuzz, has an amateur quality that’s somewhat appropriate to the material. The vocals fit, too – dreamy and half-remembered, they float but never reach the compelling yelp of joy of Avey Tare. The duo occasionally rely on these aesthetic tics to the exclusion of melody and structure, as evidenced on the plodding, ten-minute finale.
Though the album has its moments, “Jimmy Dove” remains the its most compelling tune, a turned-inside-out party song (“at the end of the night ... Making friends with the stars”), full of optimism and wonder. That’s why Kanye got interested in these guys in the first place, and it’s a good enough reason for the rest of us to lend an ear. Season Dreaming isn’t the complete statement of a group fully formed, but a solid argument for better stuff to come. Let’s keep a close eye on those guys down in Florida.