Monday, March 24, 2008

Pelican, "After the Ceiling Cracked" review

Pelican"After the Ceiling Cracked"Hydra HeadAvailable NowAUGUSTA, GA - Casual music fans that get a hold of the specs for Pelican’s new live DVD are likely to wonder why a band would release a concert film over a year after the majority of the footage was recorded.

Then again, Hydra Head isn’t marketing “After the Ceiling Cracked” toward the casual Abbey Road T-shirt-wearing FYE jockey… they’re marketing it towards Pelican fans. I mean let’s face it, this isn’t something that just anybody is going to walk by, see it and think to themselves, “Eh, might as well.”

The Eagles’ “Hell Freezes Over” it ain’t—which is generally a good thing. May the devil extinguish his cigar butt on the necks of the Herweg brothers if they ever go near the words “farewell tour.” Love ya, guys.

OK, so if you know anything at all about Pelican, then you’re probably not going to be taken aback by anything you see here: It’s long been known that the band is equally adept at creating quiet, mood-piece passages as they are at throwing down with mountain-shattering riffs that could kick up enough of a cosmic shit-storm to put a crack in a 2001 monolith.

That’s a given, but, because this time around you can actually see the intent in the eyes and movements of the band members. Songs like “Autumn into Summer” and “Aurora Borealis” open the viewer up to a whole new dimension of interaction; the crescendos in “Last Day of Winter,” are, likewise, nothing short of triumphant.

The best part of the DVD, however, is the archival footage, some of which dates back to a few of the band’s first performances in 2003, and which allows you to chart the course of the group’s evolution not only with regards to stage presence, but also to how they’ve approached the songwriting process and even certain songs. Juxtapose their performances of “Mammoth” and “Pink Mammoth” and see if you aren’t a little enlightened.

Evolution is the whole point of “After the Ceiling Cracked,” and the foundation upon which Pelican’s very existence is based. The impact is considerable, especially when you realize that seeing the band live is an extension of this whole experience.

I’m not sure whether to feel grateful or manipulated. Cheeky bastards—and oh yeah, the DVD comes packaged with a 3" CD that features two versions of “Pink Mammoth” (one with the entire lineup of These Arms Are Snakes), as well as Prefuse 73 remix of “Aurora Borealis” entitled “End of Seaons.” ‘Course, if you’re like me, you’d already have most of that on vinyl. Dorks! Wait…

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