Artist: Crown Larks
Title: Catalytic Conversion
Keywords: Experimental, Drone, Minimal, Maximal, Rock & Roll
Reviewer: Alex Spalding
Catalytic conversion occurs when… I’m just kidding, I’m not going to explain catalytic conversion to you. I mean… I totally could if I wanted to. I know exactly what it is. I’ve been converting catalysts for years. Oh, you think I don’t know what it is, huh? I don’t have to prove anything to you, I’m a music journalist! Let’s just talk about the album now, please…
For a lark, I put on the first track, titled ‘Malone’s Lullaby, Pt. 1’… whoa! It’s very post-rock, experimental. I hear low organ type tones that run through the whole piece, a stripped down and subtle rhythm section, minimal touches of guitar. It’s actually very, very nice! The vocals are sincere, not always spot on with the tuning, but I quickly sense that I like it a lot and feel that it definitely works, has a charm and a magic about it. This track… I think naive, genuine, lovely — which, really, it sounds very professionally aware of it’s own sound, what it’s going for in effect. I like also how, out of nowhere, the sounds will begin to build up, as if the musicians are leading into something intense and amazing and… then they stop, it gets taken back down. Wonderful so far, I’m enjoying where this is going and dreaming to myself of what I might hear further in!
‘Malone’s Lullaby, Pt. 2’ continues in a similar fashion as the previous track, very similar sound profile at first. We hear drones, some sound like feedback. I think I hear a saxophone, oh yeah!!! This might be a good time to mention the line-up of members of the Crown Larks… on sax, zither, bass and keys is Chris Boonenberg. What’s a zither, you may ask? I can’t explain that, either… well, I suppose that being on the internet, I could find something about it. Bill Miller is the drummer, Lorraine Bailey plays keys, flute and clarinet, and last but not least is Jack Bouboushian who adds guitar and bass and also sings. This track has a lot of great, noisy vibes… it’s kind of psychedelic in a way as well, very fun!
‘Pt. 3: Drownt At Cost’ feels like you’re coming up for air, with strumming guitars. The rhythm comes in, along with some nice vibes. This almost sounds post-punk! Goes into some heady noisy rock thing that sounds like people just fucking around, very nice…
… these first four tracks blend into one another, which is really cool. ‘Pt. 4: Satrap’ begins with guitar, a cool bassline comes in, slow rhythm builds, then it goes into the main body of the song. If feel like I’m being filmed in slow motion, running up to a can laying on a street and kicking it with great force and energy, then we pan to an really awesome little organ solo. I think this is the first time I might have reviewed an organ solo, so let me just say, I do have a weird love for organ solos. This tune is hitting a soft spot in my heart right now, especially since it’s very wild rocking stuff! Distorted vocals here, intensity, an ever-shifting soundscape with lots of interesting audio effects all kind of blurring my perception of what’s going on, this sound is burying itself in my brain. I hear what sounds like a harmonica or some kind of horn doing a solo now too! Wow.
Next is ‘Aquarium’. A bit of clarinet, feedback. It’s soft, causing you to lean in… that is, if your speaker(s) are in front of you like mine are. If they’re behind you, you might lean backward, or if you’re wearing headphones your eardrums might begin to expand outward toward the speakers. Guitar, drums, vocals… there is, dare I say, a bit of a Radiohead vibe on this record, but I like this a lot better. I don’t like Radiohead at all really. I feel like I’m laying on a beach, and it’s hot… the sky is red, the water is violet, the sand green, and I’m drinking vodka martinis for some reason while thinking about the universe.
Then it’s ‘Blue Lobsters’! If your lobster is blue, do not eat it! It may make you sad… and be otherwise disgusting. This track is fun from the very beginning… interesting grooves, somehow classic and yet also a touch avantgarde. It has a classic jazz/rock/fusion progression type feel and flirts a bit with that sort of sound, but frequently throws different things at you… like flute, distortion and feedback, a broken up rhythm.
The final song is ‘6-5 (Live)’, which is a blast of impromptu-sounding rock driven by drums, organ leads and guitars while every so often a sustained vocal is carried over somewhat off-key, but that just makes it even more fun.
If you’re looking for something that’s kind of like a meeting ground between post-rock and what you might also deem to be more of a “classic” rock basis or feel, featuring some unique instrumentation, energy and an originality all it’s own… give this a chance. I suspect that even if at first listen you think to yourself that you might not know if it’s your thing, give it a bit and come back and I think you’ll find something about it that has grown on you. If it’s something you like immediately, cheers! Here’s that link you would expect, at the bottom of the page as usual: