Experimental music is hard to define and thus is usually done so by using the albums themselves as a sort of parameter. What makes something an experiment is based entirely on opinion which is why all explanation, in short, is constructed in sand. Hailing from Atlanta, Georgia, indie duo Semicircle, consisting of Andrew McFarland and Ryan Engelberger, have constructed a debut album some might consider experimental and others undefinable. Forming in 2010 as a unit of interpretive creation, Semicircle would play shows based soley in improvisation. In the years following they would, to a degree, solidify their sound into recognizable songs and, noticing a strong following, started recording tracks. Released under Quality Faucet Records, Blown Breeze, Grown Grass, And We Are Part Of The Earth is a testament to creativity and ambition, perhaps not through instrumental ingenuity, but rather in artistic design and approach.
A good chunk of this album are tracks that either build up beautifully or choose to remain in a sort of meditative repetition. It’s as if Thom Yorke is trying to sing Slowdive songs over well-defined Explosions in the Sky arrangements that either do or don’t have a break down. The rest of the album, however, blasts off into a variety of different, dare I say, genres? Focusing primarily on the second half of the album, the songs really start to evolve into differing entities, leaving the listener un-expectant and eager. To start off, the sixth track “Remember Me” is probably the most typical in form when you think of “indie-rock”, but because it follows the trance-folk turned post-rock fifth track “Underground River of Glass”, the song lets the listener reside in a familiar realm filled with fervent expectation, which is ultimately fulfilled. Bright chords, solid vamping, and strong picking make for a classic down and out love song. The next track, “Easier”, is an embodiment both in feel and vocal delivery of something that would come off a Nick Drake record, a delicate, introverted tune that personifies the British folk movement of the 1960-s and early 70’s. The next two songs, “Stranger” and “Ruth and Meigs”, are comparable in sound to first Dire Straits, and then to Simon and Garfunkel’s whispery folk feel. Bringing us to the final track, “Part of the Earth”. Atmospherically designed and cryptic in message, the final song is an emotionally driven, introspective manual for how to reconnect with nature. Longest in duration, this track exemplifies what makes Semicircle’s Debut album great: differentiation.
Every song on this LP is a different approach to the relaxed-indie ideal that bands such as Wilco and Fleetwood Mac created through their own unique interpretations of the music before them. The greatest characteristic Semicircle displays in their debut album is the ability to detour laziness. Andrew McFarland and Ryan Engelberger, through shared creative ambition, truly made something worth listening to – and then listening to again. Expect Semicircle to make big waves in the indie rock scene in the future.