Ponieheart/Crane Orchard

Ponieheart/Crane Orchard

Ponieheart/Crane Orchard

Touch To Love/Spread Your Lies Wholeheartedly

Now Here Records

While first opening this disc, I was like, “Bonus! Double album by two bands! Did they fight over top billing?” But no worries, because both Ponieheart and Crane Orchard are songwriting outlets for one Paul Fugazzotto II — and it’s a pretty interesting move to put two side projects together as one package, in an attractive cardboard casing, no less. The stylistic differences between the two outfits were wide enough that I had to read the press release before I made the connection (I’m slow). Is it just me or do the liner notes shout out a number of indispensable death metal classics by the likes of Entombed (Clandestine? Good fucking eye there, Johnny Dordevic ruled it with his sole vocal outing), Godflesh, and Carcass? I like this already.

Crane Orchard’s contribution begins with a guitar vamp that’s straight out of “Rumble” strapped to a good slice of post-millennial dread à la Radiohead, complete with heartbeat/life support effects, a nervous falsetto, and avant-garde hymnal shapes. “Bitter” has the unsteady gait of a Codeine daze, swaying waltz-like and unsteady under a kitchen sink’s worth of cabaret instrumentation, bubbling under heavily reverbed guitar waves and stumbling drums. Elsewhere they dabble in sad bossa-psychedelia (“Please Forgive Me”) and Billy Bragg-goes-electro earnestness (“Dirty”). Then “Friend” takes us out with a one-two punch and angelic boy vocals floating contentedly on a dense cloud of organs, burbling bass, chiming guitars, and stoned ’60s melodies.

Ponieheart’s disc is more rough and fraught with bruised pride proudly on display. It strips away many of the grander post-rock orchestration of Crane Orchard down to just guitar, voices, and spare rhythm box. Check out the droning hum of acoustic guitar strings and the Will Oldham-esque vocal quaver of “Hold The Line.” It’s an album of quiet pauses and unsettling, hurt vocals that soar into dramatic falsettos and brittle but intimate instrumentation. Please note that the songs “Breece Pancake” and “Swamp” appear on both discs in radically different incarnations. You probably won’t wear either of these bands’ patches on your denim jacket, but listening to this split release is a pleasant way to spend an afternoon.

Now Here Records: now-here-records.com

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