A Whisper in the Noise
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A Whisper in the Noise

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"If you have a thirst for beautiful melancholy, take a step onto Dry Land; Steve Albini puts the polish on some true Southern Gothic."

Dry Land is something very special. A Whisper In The Noise's third full-length album is a striking and artistic piece of work, full of dark stories drawn on a wide canvas, and sculpted by instruments rarely heard outside of classical compositions. The songs themselves are haunting, funereal, almost oppressive; stripped of vocals, this would make fine incidental music for some Southern Gothic movie biopic, full of mouldering clapboard houses and swamp-bound secrets.

Powerful songwriting means that the material is authentically weighty while almost entirely avoiding the traditional hallmarks of heavy music – there are no distorted walls of guitar, no thundering drums, no screaming vocals, but the music still presses into the air around you like a blanket of smoke. Think of Trent Reznor's more thoughtful and subtle tunes – the instrumentation may be different, but there's a distinct similarity in the emotional content. Dry Land is a journey into the centre of selfhood – and human psychology being what it is, that's no sun-soaked picnic day-trip.

Instead, an array of classical instruments deliver a tonal pallet that evokes introspective melancholia with an edge of fragile beauty; when Steve Albini produces a record, you can never be sure quite what you're going to get, but here he has helped birth a thing of great beauty. Guitars are plucked or gently strummed; piano notes ring out in low registers, or play slow riffs and arpeggios that mark of the passing of the seconds like drops of rain or dead flower petals falling to the floor in dusty rooms; brass and string tones paint layers of depth and emotion, subtle textures like the audio equivalent of sepia-tint photography, exchanging bright hues of colour for ever-more-subtle gradations of light and shade. Over all of this, West Thordson's plaintive broken vocals stitch tales of loss and confusion into the weave. It's stunning, evocative, and very moving.

I hope I've made it clear that this isn't a cheery album, but it is a work of sheer brilliance, nonetheless. If you're after bright and sparkly pop music, or even the straight-up energy of rock and metal, stay on the train – Dry Land is not your stop, and you will find nothing to slake your thirst here. But if you like to wander the wilderness, confronting the beautiful bleakness of the human condition, listen closely for A Whisper In The Noise. The landscape will speak to you if you let it – and you should.

By: Paul Raven - subba cultcha

"Music Review: A Whisper In The Noise - Dry Land"

If I'm not careful, writing a review of Beautiful Land is going to read like a thesaurus for the word "melancholy". It is beautiful and disturbing fare, hinting at malevolence throughout. The pace rarely rises beyond the funereal and the mood never lifts. It took quite some listens to settle into the grey scale of the music given the unrelenting gloom of the post-Christmas drag. And Spring is a long way away, well it is for this album.

This cerebral and artistic album incorporates dolorous close harmonies, most notably on "A New Dawn" which has echoes of Pink Floyd wrapped in a scratchy wool blanket. It creates an epic, bleak landscape around which the music ebbs and flows. Elsewhere they are not afraid to experiment with discordant elements but not to the point that the result is unlistenable.

A quick google soon reveals that A Whisper In The Noise typically play with a backdrop of images which illustrate their themes, but the music automatically creates a cine-film in your head. "In Will", with its plaintive distressed violin, evokes images of shuffling concentration camp inmates living in listless, skeletal purgatory, or sad, lonely old ladies waiting for the relative who never arrives.

The lyrics are deserving of mention, if only because I can't think when I last heard the word "obsequious" woven so seamlessly into a song but maybe I'm only saying that because I needed to get the dictionary out for "acedia". It would be ridiculous to imagine that these menacing songs could ever be accompanied by anything other than plaintive, aching words and they do not disappoint. The imagery of "Aramament" declares "I want all of this to be gone, I want all of this to die, I want hope to ring as virtue, not as final compromise" — fair makes you shudder, don't it?

The instrumentation is non-conventional, with an orchestral flair. There are several layers of piano, violins, synths, guitars, percussion and voice effects, all nestled together. It is all put together so beautifully that it seems churlish to try to separate it into its constituent elements. I'll leave that effort to the musos, for me its all about the way the sounds make me feel, and this music makes me feel languid and reflective, yet quietly, dangerously murderous. It's not an immediate album, it takes effort to get your head around, but then it wriggles into your consciousness and lies across your discomfort like a warm, wet towel.

A Whisper In The Noise has managed to dig into the dark corners of my psyche and set it to music. I'm not sure that's a good thing for anybody to understand. - blogcritics.org


Through the Ides of March - 2002
2d - 2004
As the Bluebird Sing - 2006
Dry Land - 2007



Ever since their inception nearly 6 years ago, A Whisper In The Noise have been almost completely self reliant with a DIY treatment of all things band related. It's exactly this type of hard work and perseverance that has molded the group into the amazing and brilliant artists they are today. The often described "orchestral garage rock" band from Hanska, Minnesota, give an extremely humble and personal touch to gorgeous, string-laden rock music.

Influenced by artists ranging from Bob Dylan and Roger Waters to Philip Glass and Arvo Part, A Whisper In The Noise was formed in 2002 by West Thordson, who grew up on a large patch of farmland in the rural Minnesota town of Hanska (population 365). As an adult, Thordson moved into the abandoned elementary school he attended as a boy, where he composed in the music room in which he'd played as a child and wandered the empty halls at night. This dark, dramatic sense of loneliness and solitude informs the moody, atmospheric sound of the music he makes with bandmates Matt Irwin (drums) amd Hannah Murray (violin).

Within a year of forming, the band had released its debut album Through The Ides Of March, which was recorded in two days and produced by the legendary Steve Albini, who later took the band to Europe to open a string of shows for Shellac. The album earned comparisons to art rock bands such as Sigur Ros and Mogwai, and also garnered them a performance slot at Europe's All Tomorrow's Parties festival. The band's second album As The Bluebird Sings saw them further expanding their experimental sound and covering Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'." Produced by Tom Herbers (Low, Soul Asylum, The Jayhawks, Victoria Williams), the album was released in the spring of 2006. The recordings drew the attention of M. Night Shyamalan, who featured music by the band in his film Lady In The Water.

In 2007 the band has composed their most accomplished album Dry Land. Also produced by long-time friend Steve Albini, the album, chiming in at 11 tracks and 55 minutes, has received critical acclaim ,appearing on many best of 2007 lists. In support of this release, AWITN recently completed their third and most extensive European tour throughout March and April of 2008.