Daniel Hart, violin-toting member of St. Vincent, the Polyphonic Spree, and John Vanderslice’s band, has a new project – The Physics of Meaning. Combining his loves of classical music and the theater, Hart creates something of an indie-rock musical on Snake Charmer and Destiny at the Stroke of Midnight.
The Physics of Meaning touch on several different styles throughout the album, but the core of strings based around Hart’s violin provide a common string to tie it all together. Hart’s story-like lyrics weave a tale of a snake charmer and his doomed love, Victoria. Lead male and backing female vocals help bring the story to life instead of merely putting it in a third-person perspective.
Hart’s mastery of his craft shines through on the opening and closing tracks, the companion instrumental pieces “In Dreams, We Discover Ourselves, Broken and Yearning” and “In Dreams, We Return to Ourselves, Empty and Honest”. The former is a dramatic violin solo, and the latter a revisit of the theme with additional strings that builds into a beautifully striking sound.
Closer to the rock vein are “Around the Bend” and “Why Can’t We Fall In Love Forever? (Anything Is Possible)”. “Around the Bend” features beautiful female vocals playing off of Hart’s, accompanied by harp and with a melody and feeling that would not be out of place in a musical. The start of “Why Can’t We Fall…” has a soul sentiment, but the tune is all indie. The strings, propulsive drums, handclaps, and choir constitute perfection.
Snake Charmer and Destiny at the Stroke of Midnight dropped 09/16/08.
Visit their MySpace page and download “Aeroplanes and Hurricanes” here.
On her debut, St. Vincent (aka Annie Clark) bends and melds genres, delivers her lyrics in a beautiful mezzo-soprano, and injects quirk and wit with more than just the words coming out of her mouth.
Featuring no fewer than 24 individual instruments (perhaps a nod to her other project, the Polyphonic Spree?), St. Vincent’s music is a luxuriant canopy of sound that refrains from becoming cloying. “Jesus Saves, I Spend” incorporates what may be middle-eastern influences, while “Paris is Burning” descends into a manic waltz.
“Your Lips Are Red” is a weird tune whose urgency boils under the surface, and the children’s choir on the excellent “Now, Now” gives the track a quirky punch.
Not to be overlooked are the record’s lyrics. Novel and intelligent, Clark does everything from referencing Shakespeare (“Juliet, how you been? / you look like death…” as well as the lyrics that are the title of this post) to giving everyday feelings like love and doubt a cinematic tilt (“I’m crawling through landmines / just to feel where you’ve been / I’m crawling through landmines / I know ’cause I planted them”).
Truly a masterful debut, you can find out more about St. Vincent here.
Marry Me dropped on 07/10/2007.
Disclaimer: In order to defend our hipster cred / cool points, we’d like to note that we requested this album for review on June 4. After receiving an incomplete digital copy, we finally received the real thing. Yesterday. We’ll just call it a St. Vincent summer.