Reviews

Feral Harmonic

Author: Luke Shivers
10/16/2009 | Case Western Observer | www.cwruobserver.com | Live Show Preview
Chris Crisci started performing acoustic music while on tour with Appleseed Cast at the beginning of the decade. After his first several shows garnered a positive response, Crisci formed the folk side project Old Canes and released his debut album Early Morning Hymns in 2004. Since then Crisci has been busy as front man for Appleseed Cast, but he managed to find time to lay down tracks for Old Canes' sophomore release, Feral Harmonic, due out Oct. 20. "I worked on it very much as a side project for most of the time where I wasn't touring with my other band or I wasn't working, or, it's unbelievable how much time I spend doing errands," said Crisci, joking lightheartedly.

The sound of Feral Harmonic is rooted in the folk music of the 1960s, music characterized by its lo-fi sound and raw emotionality. "Those records by today's standards are poorly recorded, but they evoke a ton of emotion and that's kind of the model that I prefer," said Crisci. He spent time over the past three years recording Feral Harmonic with a rotating cast of musicians in his own basement.

"The advantage of recording in the basement is that you can do as many takes as you want and there's no pressure," said Crisci. "I feel like sometimes when we go into the studio and we're paying 700 dollars a day there's a lot of added pressure." Crisci feels that the relaxed environment of his home studio can lead to better results when the tapes start rolling. "A lot of times I'm amazed at how fast I'll get a good vocal take when I record at home and how long it takes in studio," said Crisci.

The recording techniques Crisci used to record Feral Harmonic resulted in an honest folk album that explores the spectrum of human feeling. The album tends toward emotion ambivalence throughout; songs like "Little Bird Courage" feel jubilant and optimistic while tracks like "Under" have a downcast and troubled mood. Crisci recorded the album without the oversight of a producer, so the songs are left unscathed from modern production conventions that often lose the intentions of a song underneath overdubs and studio flourishes. "I'm not against good recording, I'm against that being the focus. If getting a pristine recording is your only focus, then you're going to miss out on the rest of it," said Crisci.

Crisci has assembled a band for an October and November tour that begins in his hometown of Lawrence, Kan. and hits Cleveland's Beachland Ballroom on Oct. 19. The lineup of Old Canes will change when the tour leaves the east coast for the west coast. "It's tedious but I'm still grateful," said Crisci of the changing lineup. "Everyone that helps me out is part of different bands, and I never really had time to try to put together a band." Crisci believes that the future of a touring band will depend on the success of Feral Harmonic. "I do have a couple of players now that are pretty committed to it and I feel like if this album does alright then I'll probably have a band."
Feral Harmonic

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