FR | EN | NL

EERDERE EDITIES | 2007 | MUZIEK | A WHISPER IN THE NOISE


Biography

West Dylan Thordson savors solitude. His atmospheric music is a reflection of his world, his mood, and his environment. Thordson grew up on a large patch of farmland in rural Minnesota and currently resides and creates in the Hanska, MN (population 365) abandoned elementary school that he attended as a child. The school closed in the early 90’s and is attached to a high school that shut its doors in the 1960’s. Thordson finds himself songwriting in the music room he played in as a child and wandering the empty, haunting halls at night sometimes blasting music throughout.

In 2002 Thordson formed Minneaplis-based A Whisper in the Noise (AWITN) with Sonja Larson (vocals, violin,) Rachel Drehmann (french horn,) Andrew Broste (bass,) and Nicholas Conner (drums, percussion). The following year they released their debut album, Through The Ides of March, with band devotee Steve Albini recording. Albini needed only two days to capture the beauty, anger, and sadness that is A Whisper In The Noise. Impressed with the recording sessions, Albini took AWITN to Europe to open a string of shows for Shellac.

 

photo1

 

As The Blue Bird Sings, produced by Tom Herbers (Low, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Victoria Williams and The Church) is ripe with purity and emotion. When asked how A Whisper in the Noise's album title As The Bluebird Sings came about, Thordson replies, “A bluebird will still sing whether or not the world around it is collapsing. It represents purity to me.”

A dramatic and dark sense of loneliness, emptiness and intimacy are reflected within the 10 tracks. From the mysterious melancholy of “Hells Half Acre” and the heart-tugging vocal-tonal-teardrop of “Through Wounds We Soon Will Stitch,” to the dynamic balancing of the sweetness of a lullaby with the sadness of a never-ending-solitary-season demonstrated in “The Sounding Line”, As The Bluebird Sings’ depth and range is executed in a precise, yet languid dynamic; overlapping and intermingling of piano, violin, French horn, children choirs, and haunting vocals over the bastardized foundation of bass and percussion. The record closes with a gut-wrenching rendition of Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin”.

 

photo2

 

A Whisper In the Noise shares musical categorization with bands such as Black Heart Procession, Red Sparowes, GYBE!, Low and Sigur Ros. Thordson has been inspired by Philip Glass, John Lennon, Roger Waters and Arvo Part. Bob Dylan has a place in Thordson’s heart as well. When he was 18 and discovered Time Out of Mind -- “it was the singular album that changed my life.”

A Whisper In The Noise have toured the UK with Shellac and Mogwai and were greatly received at All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival in Europe. They’ll be in Continental Europe for the first time!

 

Discography

-) 2002 : 'Through The Ides Of March' (self-released).

nom_image

 

-) 2004 : '2d' (self-released).

nom_image

 

-) 2006 : 'As The Bluebird Sings' on Transdreamer.

The Silent Ballet's point of view :

For the most part, April was a quiet month, filled with half-witted and uninteresting albums. The only album that truely stood out and screamed "Listen to me!" was As the Bluebird Sings from A Whisper in the Noise. I had been anxiously awaiting the release of this album last year, along with DecoyMusic editor Adam Roncaglione, whom also fancies himself quite a fan of the so-called Americana genre. Previously, A Whisper in the Noise was a band that I had placed in my mind as being good, but not great, and filled with potential. If you track as many low radar bands as I do, that list is quite long, so it's not always easy for one of those bands to remove themselves from that list and join the group of bands that are just simply awesome. In April, A Whisper in the Noise did just that.

There's a bit of history involved in chamber rock genre. A Whisper in the Noise is not the first band to distort the indie rock sound with layers of strings and horns and pianos until it warps into an unrecognizable, spooky form. Certainly the genre also consists of like minded bands such as The Paper Chase, Murder by Death, Black Heart Procession, Desert City Soundtrack, and Cursive, each of whom adds its own flavor to the mix with much success. If you look at all the common threads in these bands, and track them back a few years, I claim that it all tracks back to the works of Mr. Bungle albeit a much more restrained and focused expression that Patton ever cared to conjure up with his band. So, as distant cousins to Americana, we might have the more experimental music of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, Tub Ring, Skeleton Key, and the rest of the "circus rock" genre. Why is this all important? Because, in As the Bluebird Sings, A Whisper in the Noise dips its brush a bit more deeply into the nightmarish realm of the circus rock genre that its Americana contemporaries have ventured before, and this surreal genre has just gotten a bit more dark and delusional.

The general consensus surrounding A Whisper in the Noise seems to be that the band's 2002 album, Through the Ides of March was a much stronger release than 2D, which was released in 2004. While the former is clearly better than the latter, both left something to be desired in my book. A Whisper in the Noise had most of the mechanics down for the purpose of creating some great music, but it's almost as if the band left the listener halfway through the job and never completed the rich story it crafted. As the Bluebird Sings tightens up its composition and leaves no loose ends. Everything gels together coherently despite the outwardly chaotic nature of the music. West Thordson displays a wide vocal range and even more impressive diversity in vocal styles. From bitter whispers to sharp howls, Thordson's vocals are the main tool which A Whisper in the Noise uses to lead its haunting melody and crushingly beautiful respites.

As the Bluebird Sings is an album about purity in the face of oncoming chaos. When world we live in is being destroyed there are still areas of solitude and moments of tranquility. Take it as you will--utterly depressing or enthusiastically uplifting, but it's undeniable that A Whisper in the Noise succeeds are replicating the idea put forth by the album. Pianos and strings are not utilized to evoke an organic, humanistic richness, but instead to superimpose an eerie feeling of confusion and paranoia. "The Tale of Two Doves" perfectly introduces the album. Lethargic keys trod along, with the violin carelessly slicing into the sonic landscape offering absolutely no momentum. Thordson's vocals remain detached--playful yet cautiously aware of the state of its music. The chorus adds a rough dimension to the song, lifting it up to a new level of aggression, but unable to keep it focused long enough to pose a significant threat.

The title track marks the second song on the album and steals the whole show. The surreal nature of the album carries over from "The Tale of Two Doves", this time heightened by a screeching violin, electric bass, and despondent drums. The vocals undulate between low, quiet whispers to devastatingly rigid howls. Towards the end of the song the clouds open up and the bleak atmosphere vanishes. Thordson sings "I don't care about this more than anyone else/Do you care about this?/Really care about this?/I wish it were so…”, again emphasizing the thematic aspect of the album. And like a double-edged sword the music parallels the vocals which parallels the lyrics. But in this day and age, duality is what you pay for.

I’d be lying if I said the album gets any better after “As the Bluebird Sings,” but this shouldn’t be taken as a statement that the album declines. Not at all. A Whisper in the Noise continues on its caustic journey, hitting the highs and the lows and doing an amazing juggling act while balancing the two forces against each other. This type of wizardry must be applauded, for the band truly shows the skill required to pull of such an album and make it appear so smooth and elastic. Several times during the album, the band almost instantaneously changes from a heated, tension filled incline to a flat segue. The beauty is that the band makes the distance in between those two points look negligible, and Thordson navigates his voice like a professional. It’s rare that I’ll comment on the vocal capacity of a singer, but Thordson is really one to be applauded for this work in As the Bluebird Sings. Whether or not you like his actual voice, it’s difficult to argue that this man doesn’t have a godly command of his voice.

While not destined to become the next mainstream success, there’s no reason why A Whisper in the Noise can’t make a safe home in the cd collection amongst several less deserving artists that internet critics like to rave about. A Whisper in the Noise is a refreshing sound that never repeats itself yet always have a familiar ring to it. Some may call that endless variety. To me, it just sounds like music to my ears…

Jordan Volz - website.

nom_image

 

Audio

A few tracks and a video can be downloaded on their official site. See also : LastFM.

 

Web

-) Official site.
-) Myspace.
-) Transdreamer.