Eyestrings - Burdened Hands

Year of Release: 2004
Label: Split Difference
Catalog Number: SDR78001
Format: CD
Total Time: 66:04:00

With thick fog in the air, the visibility up ahead is greatly compromised. The terrain is rough and unfamiliar, making it is easy to trip and fall. Eventually, you are completely lost. There is a strong impulse to give up on the album. However, with a little determination to make it through a few spins, the vapor starts to vaporize. At this point, it becomes a breeze finding your way around Burdened Hands.

This is not the kind of music that instantly grabs you. The melodies are hard to digest, but the songs get better with every listen. That is why the album must be given a chance, even if it doesn't strike a nerve immediately. Resist the urge to run away. Patience is a virtue and it will be rewarded, especially in the case of this album. I found myself wanting to give up on the music right from the beginning. After many repeated listens, I have now lost count of the number of times I've returned to this album.

The reason the music is hard to swallow is due to the fact that there is little synchronization between the instruments. Each seems to follow its own flight plan, though everything in the end is relative. Watching from the ground, one can see patterns in their formations. This is very complex music. The parts must be difficult to play as the coordination between the pieces is extremely subtle. Each pilot has no frame of reference to the next when performing their moves. To an audience with a keen ear and some previous acquaintance with the songs, the mist becomes virtually transparent. When obstructions no longer block the way, a flurry of serene sounds can be heard all around and the brilliance becomes clearly apparent.

To make such multifaceted music would require an eclectic bunch of musicians. Eyestrings is composed of much talent. Ryan Parmenter puts a lot into the mix. His contributes his voice, synth, Mellotron Sampler, and even the trombone. The vocals are a big strength of the album. This should come as no surprise as he is the nephew of Matthew Parmenter, the highly-touted frontman from Discipline. Ryan is supported by a more than capable crew. Bob Young is the drummer and percussionist. Matthew Kennedy plays the bass guitar and Moog. Alan Rutter provides supporting voice and guitars.

Here is a breakdown of the songs performed by Ryan and his gang on Burdened Hands:

"Recovery" - The song is a dreamy sequence in the vein of early Genesis. The piano is a great touch. Traces of Spock's Beard, Echolyn, and Izz can also be heard. The interesting part of this song is that the guitars seem to be playing a completely different song than the rest of the instruments. The technique is reminiscent of Paul Bremmer from Izz.

"Itchy Tickler" - The song is raucous and it rocks. The boys get a little wild in this one. Ryan belts out the chorus. The piano man slams on the ivory keys. The bridge is a soothing instrumental while the surrounding sections stir in crunchy bits and pieces.

"Dead Superman" - This is one half folk, the other half mainstream-accessible pop. The song would be great for a campfire sing-a-long. Those who won't be singing it, will be swaying back and forth as they are joined in arms. At least one rhythm guitar is required. A piano would be nice to cover its dainty parts, but then again, who would haul it through the sand. Leave the complete version up to Eyestrings. This song is easy to whistle due to its memorable verses. The last note reverberates around in your head. This is clever songwriting to lead you one way and then take you another.

"Anachronism" - If looking for an example of chaos incarnated in the form of music, look no further. Musical influences that make strange combinations are brought together. Each item clashes with one another. The song is an amalgamation of contemporary music such as U2 and Seal along with Danny Elfman's weird soundtracks. The oddness is what makes it interesting. Even in its randomness, harmony can be found.

"Funnel" - This piece opens with a piano sequence similar to Spock's Beard's "The Doorway," but breaks off on a tangent that takes them into heavy traffic. Trying to avoid a collision becomes a heart-pounding experience.

"Just A Body" - Eyestrings does a fine impression of The Beatles during the chorus. The Moody Blues, Styx, and Queen can also be heard in various aspects of the song.

"Slackjaw" - Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhen, you know, the band encountered by Kermit and Fozzy in The Muppets Movie, drops by for a visit and plays us one of their jittery tunes. Afterwards, a sparkling symphony of synths brings us to the end.

"Nothing" - This is the most accessible song on the album. It's most like Porcupine Tree and Pineapple Thief. The instrumentals provide an atmospheric cushion for the passionate lyrics to lie down on. The character is feeling a wave of emotion. He is confused and uncomfortable. There is an impression of slight sadness coupled with fatigue. The problem seem short-lived. After a little rest and relaxation, the pain of the moment will probably peel away.

"Time Will Tell" - The choppy cut contains a couple droplets of Spock's Beard. There is a tiny serving of the title track from Day For Night and a smidgeon of "Freak Boy" from Snow. The short segue offers a brief intermission before the finale.

"Empty Box" - This is the best song on the album. What's it doing at the end? It starts out as a simple ballad that builds into a dynamic epic. The themes are skillfully reprised using tricks heard previously on the album. This exemplifies excellence in songwriting. Eyestrings should aim for these types of songs in their future releases. The band has immense talent. While their potential can be heard all throughout Burdened Hands, it is most obvious on this track, "Recovery," and the latter part of "Slackjaw." I'd be interested in hearing more from this band.

Eyestrings is a funny name, but the music is no joke. While the title of the album brings forth images of shackles around wrists, I assure you Burdened Hands is no burden at all. The more time spent with this album, the less it seems like a sentence, and the more it seems like a holiday. If this is solitary confinement, lock me up. Personally, I found myself hitting the repeat button on the last song. When I returned to the album later on, I found myself enjoying the first song all over again. There is enough complexity in the music to keep you coming back for more. There are catchy melodies plastered in all the cavernous regions of the music. There is much to enjoy even if it is not evident right away.

Recovery (10:00) / Itchy Tickler (4:05) / Dead Supermen (6:37) / Anachronism (5:42) / Funnel (4:28) / Just A Body (4:59) / Slackjaw (8:45) / Nothing (5:09) / Time Will Tell (3:36) / Empty Box (12:37)

Ryan Parmenter - voice, synth, mellotron sampler, trombone
Mathew Kennedy bass, Moog
Alan Rutter - supporting voice, guitars
Bob Young - drums and percussion

Burdened Hands (2004)
Consumption (2005)

Genre: Progressive Rock

Origin US

Added: September 5th 2004
Reviewer: Joshua "Prawg Dawg" Turner
Artist website: www.eyestrings.com
Hits: 1051
Language: english


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