Feathers: Absolute Noon

It's not Absolute Noon's seventeen-minute duration that accounts for its breezy quality, nor is it the Windy City connection (the EP was recorded at Soma Studios in Chicago with production input from Mikael Jorgensen, Tim Iseler, and Tortoise's John McEntire). No, its fundamental breeziness springs from its consistently inspired and uplifting music. On this first of three planned EPs (Synchromy and an as-yet-untitled third still to come), Feathers' members Ed Alonso, Eric Rasco, and Matt Crum clothe buoyant instrumental melodies in richly orchestrated, mercurial arrangements filled with electric sitars, marimbas, jazzy flutes, strings, vibes, synths, and harpsichords. Given McEntire's involvement, it doesn't surprise that some moments recall Tortoise (“My Apple Has Four Legs”) though more typically a lounge feel reminiscent of Stereolab emerges (“Coral Fingers,” “Old Cutler”). The trip north served the Miami, Florida-based Feathers well, as the group not only benefited from the studio smarts of its Chicago brethren but also instrumental contributions from Paul Mertens on flute, Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello, Jeb Bishop on trombone, and Jen Clare on violin and viola. Appropriately occupying the EP's center, “The Rise” encompasses all of the group's strengths in a single song. Following a strings and woodwinds intro, a syncopated drum pattern appears to anchor the brief flute, sitar, and strings sections that follow, before a bass clarinet and glockenspiel episode takes the intricately arranged piece out. Though “Coffee Bean” is an electronic interlude so brief it hardly registers and “Old Cutler” is in some moments almost too sunny, when it brings the EP to an abrupt end you're left wanting more—a reaction tellingly indicative of a wholly positive impression.

July 2005