o emperor Hither Thither (CD, £12.95)
“As Irish debuts go, it’s in a league of its own.” The Irish Times. “A sumptuous and wondrous debut from a band with a frighteningly bright future.” The Sunday Business Post. “Think Fleet Foxes/Local Natives, with various vocalists and the vibe of The Band thrown in for good measure…” Futuresounds. There is a sense of quiet, reserved confidence about Hither Thither, O Emperor‘s debut LP (nominated for Choice Music Prize 2011). Many commentators have noted that it sounds more like the recording of a band on their third or fourth album, such is the display of maturity and self-awareness on show. The diversity on display is striking. From songs like Don Quixote (a dense production featuring a stunning, lush string arrangement by pianist Philip Christie), Po (an elusive tale of imaginary childhood friends set against a driving 70s style production) and Don‘t Mind Me (a gracefully melodic, sun-kissed affair, with vocal harmonies shared by all five members) to the albums quieter, more introspective moments of Sedalia (a plaintive narrative with an unexpected psychedelic shift), Heisenberg (an eerily minimalistic piano-led composition) and The Fat Lady Sings (a dramatic send-off that at times hints at a taste for the avant-garde), Hither Thither is an album of dense, sprawling beauty - a collection that is diverse while remaining focused on an overriding aesthethic. A journey from Hither to Thither indeed.
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