[11 January 2009]
Chicago’s Pillars and Tongues conduct experiments in form and language. The three see music as exploration and are inspired by the “spiritual jazz” of Pharaoh Sanders. They involve a “spontaneous composition” way of jamming. Instead of “free music,” the trio (made up of Evan Hydzik, Elizabeth Remis, and Mark Trecka) collectively improvises and engages in musical discussion that “moves toward organization and resolution.”
Not following any of that last paragraph? Pillars and Tongues have released four tracks that move slowly, building and becoming more and more focused as the “song” progresses. In doing so, the band has formed a new language. Reminiscent of Silver Mt. Zion, Protection is a laggard mix of strings, woodwinds, and brass that progresses at a lethargic rate. The slowly simmering strings surround themselves around a drone but veer from the path one by one. Tinges of harmonica skip over the back and forth swaying of violins before chanting vocals take the conglomeration a folk route in “Dead Sings”. Crashing drums and cymbals make way for a didgeridoo drone and feedback full of psychedelic layers of sound. Drone and meditative vocals help take the song moments from psych folk to psychedelic gospel. While the four tracks may require a little extra head space to wrap around, they are worth the wait.