Tuesday, August 17, 2021

Music Review //
HARKNESS
"The Occasion"


https://harkness.bandcamp.com/album/the-occasion //


When I first listened to "The Occasion" I knew that I had to listen to it again (and even a third time) before I fully understood what was going on.   This does not imply though that the album is overly-complicated and I don't even think it's long by album standards but it does feel like more than one album just because of how much is happening within each song.   A lot of the songs just feel like layers upon layers of sound so being able to identify not only the genres of rock which they explore but also the instruments is an adventure.

The first song is the titular track.  It appears at the first spot in a length of 8:25 but comes back at the end as a single in the length of 3:36.   The first version feels a lot like a mini-album, an album within the album if you will.   As I begin to feel like this is disco, dance, funk and trippy there are bongos, strings and then it has a soundtrack feel to it.  It's big and experimental, a little gospel groove, and there is a lot going on.  It reminds me of something Queen might do or "Tommy" by The Who.   The sounds are a lot to process and it's only the first song!

As we move onto "I.D." there is a funky groove, like being on an island and I begin to think of the Flaming Lips (which isn't helpful because of their broad sound, but yeah, that's kind of the point)   "Hymn" makes me think even more about Queen and on "The Opener" one of my favorite lines on this album appears as he boasts: "Give us your ears because Harkness is here".  I'm not used to artists referring to themselves like this outside of rap so when it does happen I always seem to really enjoy it.

Through xylophone and baritone sax this sound can move like the score to a suspenseful film (something of the Hitchcock era perhaps)   "Shark Fin Soup" is just a jam and then there are just straight up guitar rock parts on "Lure Of The Pollen".   At times, this feels highly cinematic and because of all that is happening and the manner in which it happens I can also compare it with Pink Floyd, but that's more about the structure of the songs than the sound of the songs perhaps.

With an August of 2021 release I never really thought about what type of impact the pandemic was going to have on music with artists coming out of it and writing about being in it.  This becomes relevant in the song "Defribrilator" as it is how I interpret the opening line "Baby don't let one bad year blow us away".    While the song might be about something else, I just hear it as a positive step moving forward and along with this layered music which will all come together for you in time, I think we all need some hope right now.  

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