I came to Hanzelle’s record Bio Electric Flower Pot with no expectation, foreknowledge or exposition. Somehow my set of default receptors was still not able to decode what I heard. It’s refreshing to find local music that can be challenging and thoughtful, even demanding.
The approach to the arrangements tends toward the completion of a whole, rather than maximizing the effect of component parts. The first four tracks seem to form a perfect unit. Complex rhythm punctuates pulsing electro-whatsits, point and counterpoint, until it’s unclear which is producing the dominant tone.
Alternatively, warm fuzzies coat staccato guitar and cello.
All this must sound a little airy. There’s a lot going on. Like any good performer, they never really let you see exactly how it’s done. This is the kind of record about which Elvis Costello quipped, “Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” However, since this is the task at hand, I endeavor to persevere.
When driving down the highway, sometimes you just drive into a wall of rain. In this case, “Spirit Glass,” a wall of unchecked rhythm and whispy vocals, is underpinned with a developing theme of choppy strings. I would almost rather watch the swirling water rush over the windshield, crash, and die than turn on the wipers.
The second half eases back in with similarly lush arrangements and secret, undiscovered corners of creativity. “Fallout Heart,” lifts the veil a bit allowing us inside with simple melodies executed by Rhodes and voice. A slide guitar line drifts back and forth lulling us into the latter songs of the album. “Quit Yer Job” pitter-patters on tiny acoustic instruments lapping at your ears as if the tide were coming in, tickling toes and shifting the sand underneath them.
Bio Electric Flower Pot is Dusk at Cubist Castle for the post-rock set. It’s Metal Machine Music for people who thought they couldn’t listen to Metal Machine Music.
Hanzelle has made the best local record I’ve heard so far in ’09.