Scientists long ago proved that if you were slip and fall overseas, possibly by way of some cartoonish banana slipping incident, you would land somewhere within a five-mile-radius of a Brooklyn, New York, band. Perhaps unfairly, the perennially eclectic-borough has moulded a reputation as the sacred nirvana of indie rockers. But while he’s proud to don his Brooklyn heritage, DM Stith has the disposition of an alien when measured against the 'typical Brooklyn Indie Artist', as he proved on 2009’s critically-acclaimed Heavy Ghost. Like an intoxicating sonic whirlwind of discordant noises that coalesced into one blissful, pioneering sound, Heavy Ghost signalled a man not indebted to anything but his own artistic vision - damn the torpedoes. But his vision is simultaneously a selfless one - an artist that frequently lends his inimitable talents to a slew of side projects and of course spends a great chunk of his career buttressing the similarly groundbreaking rhythms of Sufjan Stevens. With his latest offering, Pigeonheart, Stith voyages even deeper into rarely visited stratospheres, and manages to cherry-pick fruitful guests that augment his singular sound.
For those not familiar with his work, Stith’s music is like cough medicine - seemingly yucky on the surface but eventually blossoming into a symptom-free diagnosis of beautiful harmony. His spectacular moments, which are usually the rule and not the exception, escort the listener on a plodding and sometimes chunky ride directly to the cozy shelter of a rainstorm that has the feel of a transcendent experiences, full of euphoric moments - regardless of the song’s content. On first listen 'Human Torch' sounds like a merciless assault on the ears, until around the halfway mark all its melodies coalesce into something not only uniquely captivating. DM Stith executes this same sentiment with the album’s official single, 'War Machine.' The song commences with a catchy, indie Brooklynite groove, but quickly morphs into a cavalcade of seemingly randomised sound, featuring barely audible vocals and synths. At once it sounds like a loose jam session offspring, but behind the surface is a deeply meticulous arraignment. Akin to free jazz, with timely, electrifying synth patterns, throughout Pigeonheart Stith maintains the lofty air of someone supremely confident with a musical blueprint the has doodled for an excessive period.
The stalwart artistic heroism that Stith exhibited on Heavy Ghost blossoms even further on Pigeonheart, with much more instrumental experimentation. 'Amylette' is permeated by resounding, distorted background vocals and catchy, minimalist instrumentals. What begins as Stith’s own curbed vocals gradually crescendo into a deafening, genuine howling that abruptly commingles with the rather raucous yet tamed nature of the song. In other instances, like tracks such as 'Murmurcations', Stith is content to somewhat mute or murmur his vocals to allow the instrumental palette enough oxygen to breathe. Unlike so many artists populating the airwaves, Stith seems to never let his ego or desire for profound lyricism dampen the harmonious nervous system of his body of work.
Though he has spent years of musical excursions with Sufjan Stevens, and not to mention, the composition of the stellar solo Heavy Ghost, DM Stith brings a new bag of sonic tricks with him this time around, like synths that seem to be meticulously placed around the fortress of his poetics. In this vein, DM Stith experiments with instrumentation to an astounding degree, seemingly creating a Heavy Ghost LP on steroids. On Pigeonheart-- an entrancing hodgepodge of oscillation and reverberation make it an album not begging, but demanding repeated listens. But DM Stith manages to direct all the material to an organic endpoint, as if the arithmetic behind each sound and variable production technique amounts to the sum of a beautiful whole, like on the alluring nature of “Nimbus.” Throughout the album DM Stith acts a man far off into the galaxy, oscillating between space and sound, and without much vocalizing, extends a gracious hand to the listener as well.
8Kellan Miller's Score