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Tin Hat: The Rain Is a Handsome Animal [Digipak] *

Track List

>a cloud on a leaf
>rain is a handsome animal, the
>sweet spring
>if up's the word
>open his head
>buffalo bill
>enormous room, the
>so shy shy shy
>2 little whos
>yes is a pleasant country
>human rind
>anyone lived in a pretty how town
>little i
>now (more near ourselves than we)

Album Remarks & Appraisals:

The music of Tin Hat is born of long-standing friendships and deep musical connections. It is subtle, introspective and generous, with the uncanny ability to be melancholy and joyful, sprightly and sinister. Collectively, the group's writing focuses on evocative melodies, subtle textures and elegant arrangements, moving through the musical languages of folk, classical, Americana, and countless others. "E. E. Cummings' language straddles the same aesthetic worlds as Tin Hat's music," says violinist Carla Kihlstedt, whose remarkable singing is at the center of the group's latest project, The Rain is a Handsome Animal: an album of songs using Cummings's visionary modernist poetry as lyrics. "He moves between folk rhythms and a more abstract approach -- very similar to the musical terrain of Tin Hat."

Album Notes

Recording information: Brick Hill, Orleans, MA; Dead Aunt Thelma's, Portland, OR; New, Improved Recording, Oakland, CA.

Photographer: Peter Gannushkin.


Tin Hat/The Rain is a Handsome Animal/New Amsterdam
Tin Hat is a communist composer collective (CCC) with very subversive small font on their CD, so older, Neocons can’t even read it. Fronted by vocalist/violinist Karla Kilstedt, they present a 17 movement song-cycle based on E.E. Cummings poetry. This is a post-modern siditiousness, in there integration of classical counterpoint and contemporary music colorations, into, let’s say, rhythm guitar-rooted, Broadway/continental, song stylings. New Amsterdam has found another crossover gem/goldmine with something that could appeal to both alt-rock, coffee guzzling hipsters and older Ikea collecting, classical commuting bourgeoisie. The great danger here is these musicians might make a ton of money (maybe they already have?) and lose their alt status and date ditsy Hollywood actors. And for this nit-picky reviewer, they might single handedly destroy the noisy, dense, obtuse, incomprehensible edifice of contemporary music with beauty, accessibility, seduction, and transparency. Oh, the humanity! Oh, and great CD…
1.A cloud on a Leaf
Song form with tasty, sparse arrangement., featuring soft and delicate close-miked voice, with some really nice guitar playing. It’s all in a sensitive mp-mf range.
2.The Rain…
An instrumental . More tasty guitar playing with violin, accordion, and clarinet playing alternatively written out and jams over top. I loved the way these instruments are played and miked.
3. Sweet Spring
Again , I like the ‘no pushing’ vocal in a deceptively sophisticated arrangement. This is Nora Jones/breathy Bjork does acid and runs into players that actually can play instruments.
4. If up’s the word
More traditional fare- beautifully performed.
5.Open his head
Very cool, Webern spares arrangement.
6. Unchanging
Love the head! These arrangements are gold! I’m still humming this-why didn’t Webern write melodies like this?
7.Buffalo Bill
Accordion with horn stops.-wait it is a brass quintet-why is there phasing? This must be multi-tracked trumpets and horns-wouldn’t know because of my eyesight.
8.Enormous Room
Love this instrumental –all pretty fresh and memorable. Communism works! There’s much more improv-based, extended technique on this track. This violinist accordionist and clarinetist are pretty smokin’.
9. So Shy
Beautiful broadway recit. with multi-tracked clarinets. Nice miking.
10.little whos
Michael Torke? Nice head. Really disarmingly beautiful song.
11. Yes….
Nice journey through contrasting sections
12. Grapefruit
Another instrument with really sound, tradition chamber music playing that returns to the guitar centered jams.
13. Human Rind
This is darker, but incredibly beautiful.
14. Anyone lived….
There’s an Appalachian feel (steel-guitar helps) amidst more fresh arrangements and singing
15. Diminutive
Multitrack violin? -no it’s a string quartet. Super musical yet very accessible-cool head that starts in the wrong key. Add rain efx at the end
16. Little I
Violin arpeggios and vocal- again there is a Bjork quality in the phrasing and mode changes. Gorgeous instrumental end.
17. Now
More gold! Go long!

Submitted on 11/01/12 by Mike Maguire 
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