CMJ Saturday: Anathallo

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Anathallo is a big collective that makes the kind of music that makes you want to make music, the sort of gorgeously layered compositions that could score the freakiest short films ever, or just some closed-eyes-and-headphones hallucinations. And lemme tell you, it’s a lovely break in the middle of a bunch of punk/rock shows.

The most amazing thing about the band is just how big it is: seven people crammed onto the Knitting Factory stage and at least twice as many instruments, including a four foot drum next to a two foot drum. The fact that it all works together as a unit without sounding like a jam session/drum circle is pretty amazing – their songs are nothing if not complex and intricate, and the lyrics, though easy to miss the first time around, tell some great stories.

“We’re Anathallo,” says the lead singer to a confused audience member. “That’s A-n-a-t-h-a-l-l-o. We like to spell it out,” and told a story about playing some backwater desert venue and seeing the sign read “Anna’s Hollow”.

A few new songs were scattered in the set but most were off The Floating World, one of the most interesting finds of last year, an album full of Japanese folk tales, hand claps, Sufjan-Stevens-like compositions and long, beautiful songs. Between songs, and sometimes in the middle of the songs, the players would shuffle between instruments, navigating the wire-laden mess of the stage like circus performers. The drummer making it to the upstage microphone and a guitar and then back in the middle of a song, which was pretty impressive.

Really, it reminds you of what Contemporary Classical is missing – a personal, humble approach to sound, more folk than baroque.

–David deLeon