[20 September 2004]
Early last winter, the Six Parts Seven released a remix album of sorts entitled Lost Notes From Forgotten Songs. Collaborating with some big names in the indie rock community including Sam Beam (Iron & Wine), Isaac Brock (Modest Mouse), David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), Katie Eastburn (Young People), and Will Johnson (Centro-Matic), these artists reconstructed the Six Parts Seven desert-burned instrumentals with the addition of vocals. The resulting album was a scattershot success, but was an interesting take on the group’s music. The best tracks, particularly the ones featuring Sam Beam and Will Johnson, showed that the Six Parts Seven’s instrumental musings benefited from a healthy dose of pop.
[Everywhere][And Right Here], the Six Parts Seven’s third full length (not including the aforementioned remix album), finds the group delivering another eight tracks of mournful, contemplative, instrumental rock. It’s been two years since the Six Parts Seven’s last album, Things Shaped In Passing; however, the band has failed to push their immediately recognizable sound forward in anyway. The result is an album, that while excellently played, sounds dated and dull.
With a membership spanning seven members, the Six Parts Seven are hardly at a loss for instrumentation. Vibraphones, lap steel, grand piano, Rhodes, and a curious instrument known as a “fantom” accent traditional rock instruments such as guitars, bass, and drums. Blessed with a variety of musical avenues at their disposal, the Six Parts Seven fail to capitalize on the opportunities in front of them, choosing the well-worn path they’ve traveled for the last four years.
From the opening strains of “[What You Love You Must Love Now]”, the Six Parts Seven lay down the framework for the rest of the album. Cleanly strummed guitars, with nicely interlocking runs played by Allen Karpinski and Tim Gerak, are coupled with the ambling percussion provided by Allen’s brother Jay. A crystal clear vibraphone rounds out the composition. The song swells beautifully over five minutes, and fades out nicely. However, this formula is repeated over and over on the next seven tracks, creating a nice sound, that relegates itself to background listening. The only standout is the previously released “[A Blueprint Of Something Never Finished]”. Opening with a rippling vibraphone and electronic burbles, the song moves finely through three distinct, yet well-connected movements. It is the finest track on [Everywhere][And Right Here], but this caliber of songwriting isn’t found on the rest of the album.
The Six Parts Seven are accomplished musicians but beside contemporaries like Calexico and the jazzier Do Make Say Think, their take on sun-baked Americana lacks resonance. [Everywhere][And Right Here] is an album that, in not commanding attention, fails. Guitarists Karpinski and Gerak write beautiful, cohesive parts; however, they are so smooth, that there is no hook for the listener to hang on to. I suspect that Six Parts Seven are much better than their output suggests, but their songwriting hasn’t yet risen to the level of their musicianship, and when that happens, they will be a force to be reckoned with.