words by tom johnson
There’s a stillness to the opening track on Hour’s stunning new record that is as encompassing as anything else we’ve heard this year. Quietude has always been a forceful component of intrigue and hear it immediately draws you in to the world of Tiny Houses, the world outside, surrounding, immediately drifting out of focus while you zero in on the the music and nothing else, the only way it can and should be heard.
Unveiled in full here today, ahead of its release next week, the new record from the Philadelphia collective – comprised of Mike Cormier, Abi Reimold, Evangeline Krajewski, Matt Fox, Pete Gill from Friendship, and Jason Calhoun of Naps – is a truly exquisite piece of work, a gently swelling work of post-rock and ambient that creates vivid landscapes of imagination for the listener to fill. Music of this ilk so often comes across as filmic, as a soundtrack to our distant daydreams, and Tiny Houses certainly fulfils such a role; the tender, unhurried arc of its progression so beautifully immersive you’ll find your transported somewhere else entirely for the forty-minutes of its duration.
The first time I heard it, far from Philadelphia, buried inside a big city, it fitted seamlessly in to the fabric of my day, vivid and illusory, a testament to the acuteness of its delicate absorption. Before the end of the first track it had started to snow, the flakes outside my window dancing in weird, audacious movements, stirred and shaped by the wind, one of those funny little moments where everything seems to align itself, so beautiful and perfectly accidental.
Unwinding across its ten tracks, the record rarely strays from its overriding design, each track quietly blooming or else just hovering in place, waiting for some gentle force to set it to moving again. As such, ‘Tiny Houses’ is best taken as one whole piece, in one whole sitting, however there are little moments that ruminate, where the strings are stretched that little further, whether the simmering guitars flutter with greater intensity.
As previously mentioned, opening track “Beautiful, OH” is the perfect start-point, while “This Is What I Wanted” has an elegiac sway to it that makes it a perfect centre-piece. Closing track “From A Bus Window in Central Ohio, Just Before a Thunder Shower” is also of notable significance, not least for its beautiful, repeating weave of guitar, but for that title too, an apt summation of the record’s tone and sustenance, the way the whole thing feels distinctly shaped by the weather and our place within it; of the road and spiralling distances, of a sense of longing unexplored and left to drift, of great stretches of road, lost to the night, and nothing but the motion of the vehicle holding us in place.
All of which is to say that ‘Tiny Houses’ is something very special indeed. And, while we’re somewhat adverse to lauding longevity or significance upon records here at GFP, tending, instead, to focus on how it sits with us, the connection we feel with it, there’s something in the timber of this album, in the marrow of its existence, that feels decidedly essential on a more wide-ranging level; a record destined to mean something intensely symbolic to those lucky enough to stay a while in its presence. And it’s not every day we get to say that.
Stream the album in full below right now; it’s released next week via Sleeper Records with pre-orders available here.
February 17 – Philadelphia, PA
February 18 – Baltimore, MD
February 19 – Washington, DC
February 20 – Harrisburg, PA
February 21 – Pittsburgh, PA
February 22 – Columbus, OH
February 23 – Rochester, NY
February 24 – Ithaca, NY