Sunday, January 15, 2017

STAG HARE “Velvet and Bone (Inner Islands)




The last time I reviewed a Stag Hare release, it was the overwhelming 4xCS Tapestry, a behemoth of an album that nonetheless felt like the most intimate excursion over its four-hour runtime. Perhaps it was because each track was dedicated to a specific person that it made such an impression on me, its personal touch a reminder of human connection in a time of distance. Maybe it was because I wrote it during a pretty hideous time when gun violence seemed to prevail as an everyday occurrence. To say that I reveled in Tapestry is an understatement. It acted as a balm for my troubled soul.

Velvet and Bone, also released by Inner Islands, is a departure from the Stag Hare sound we may be used to these days. Instead of the thick swaths of dronage – well, more accurately, in addition to the thick swaths of dronage, the addition of gentle rhythmic touches and hushed vocals accelerate the immediateness of the album’s six tracks, the resulting music getting right up in your grill instead of carefully infiltrating your consciousness. I mean, it’s as “getting up in your grill” as a Stag Hare jawn gets, meaning that it’s still a more blissed-out experience than you’re likely to encounter on the reels of a cassette tape.

Tackling the familiar ideas of depression, self-reflection, loss, love, death, and how all that stuff intertwines into the fabric of life and humanity, Stag Hare, perhaps unsurprisingly, presents a convincingly earnest portrait of one person’s struggle through it. Velvet and Bone is transcendently honest, gorgeously rendered, and, weirdest of all, actually catchy. Hum along, I mean it, you can! I know, to a Stag Hare release! This new revelation has me giddily reaching for the rewind button, something that Tapestry didn’t exactly lend itself to (nor was it designed for). The healing power of music never felt so joyously tangible.

Stag Hare
Inner Islands


--Ryan Masteller

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