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Tin Hat  The Rain Is a Handsome Animal (2012)

 Tin Hat Trio — The Rain Is a Handsome Animal (2012)

Tin Hat  The Rain Is a Handsome Animal
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Album release: August 28, 2012
Record Label: New Amsterdam Records / NWAM040
Genre: Avant-Garde, Folk, Other
Duration:     68:26
01 A cloud on a leaf     4:00
02 The rain is a handsome animal     4:21
03 Sweet spring     4:21
04 If up's the word     4:47
05 Open his head     2:47
06 Unchanging     3:39
07 Buffalo Bill     3:31
08 The enormous room     7:14
09 So shy shy shy     1:39
10 2 little whos     4:39
11 Yes is a pleasant country     2:43
12 Grapefruit     6:06
13 Human rind     4:39
14 Anyone lived in a pretty how town     4:27
15 Diminutive     2:28
16 Little i     3:45
17 Low (more near ourselves than we)     3:20
Carla Kihlstedt - violin, voice http://carlakihlstedt.com/
Ben Goldberg - clarinets http://www.bengoldberg.net/
Mark Orton - guitar, dobro http://markortonmusic.com/
Rob Reich - accordion, piano http://www.robreich.com/
Main manager & Press contact: Hans Wendl Produktion
Website: http://www.tinhattrio.com/
The music of Tin Hat is born of long-standing friendships and deep musical connections. It is subtle, introspective and generous, with the uncanny ability to be melancholy and joyful, sprightly and sinister. Collectively, the group's writing focuses on evocative melodies, subtle textures and elegant arrangements, moving through the musical languages of folk, classical, Americana, and countless others. "E. E. Cummings' language straddles the same aesthetic worlds as Tin Hat's music," says violinist Carla Kihlstedt, whose remarkable singing is at the center of the group's latest project, The Rain is a Handsome Animal: an album of songs using Cummings's visionary modernist poetry as lyrics. "He moves between folk rhythms and a more abstract approach -- very similar to the musical terrain of Tin Hat."
San Francisco-based quartet Tin Hat will release their sixth studio album, the rain is a handsome animal, August 28th on New Amsterdam Records. The 17-track song cycle is based on the visionary modernist poetry of American poet E.E. Cummings and, for the first time in the band’s history, centers largely around the remarkable singing of Tin Hat violinist Carla Kihlstedt. Each of the group’s members channeled their relationship with Cummings’ work to contribute their own unique pieces for the project, showcasing themselves as both imaginative composers as well as riveting performers. The resulting work is at once universally accessible and hard-to-define–drawing from both high and low art forms such as folk, classical, Americana, and countless other traditions–which, in essence, is exactly what makes the project emblematic of Tin Hat as well as Cummings’ work itself. The music of Tin Hat is born of the long-standing friendships and deep musical connections of members Carla Kihlstedt (violins, viola, voice), Mark Orton (acoustic guitar, dobro), Ben Goldberg (clarinets), and Rob Reich (accordion, piano). This sacred kinship is the reason handsome animal feels organically cohesive despite that each member took turns separately with the pen; each peice was collaboratively refined over the course of two years while the ensemble was on tour before being taken into the studio in May 2011. Although this isn’t Tin Hat’s first album featuring vocals (past vocalists have included Willie Nelson, Tom Waits, and Mike Patton in addition to Kihlstedt), it does mark the first time the group has focused a project almost entirely on Carla’s moving singing. Intimate, warm, and robust, her voice perfectly complements Cumming’s tough-minded words, all set to some of the most beautiful and ambitious compositions in the group’s history.
Cummings’ poetic language is a natural fit for Tin Hat’s aesthetic; some of his poems read like lyrics to folk songs, while others are spare and abstract, leaving ample room for musical interpretation. As such, some of the album’s pieces explore his poetic phrasing (such as Reich’s art-song so shy shy shy, which is written around a melodic transcription of Cummings’ own reading), or the way in which the lyrics display on the page (such as Goldberg’s stirring unchanging), while some are less direct meditations, such as the three instrumental works including Orton’s up beat, jazz-tinged title track. The album sways different ways, from Orton’s plaintive cry on buffalo bill and Reich’s catchy folk on if up’s the word, to the surreal setting made by Kihlstedt’s e-string violin on little i and Goldberg’s cinematic closer now (more near ourselves than we). But no matter where it turns, at its core the rain is a handsome animal resounds with the profoundly perfect union of these inspired minds, blurring the lines between composition and poem.Tin Hat Trio, July 2010

Jazz Review: Tin Hat's 'the rain is a handsome animal'
By: Andrew Gilbert
Many composers have found inspiration in the work of poets, setting verse to music. For Tin Hat, an ensemble with deep Bay Area roots, the elliptical modernist poetry of e.e. cummings has revealed an entirely new side of a band already known for its vast array of influences.

  Download audio (MP3) 
In its first incarnation as Tin Hat Trio, the band experienced a good deal of internal dissension over whether or not to also showcase violinist Carla Kihlstedt as a vocalist. Founded in 1997 as a stylistically expansive instrumental ensemble, the group wasn't entirely averse to singers. Early albums featured guest appearances by the likes of Tom Waits and Willie Nelson. But the fear was that with Kihlstedt's rock star charisma, unleashing her vocals would knock Tin Hat's delicate balance askew.
Those anxieties weren't entirely misplaced. A 17-song cycle based on the syntax-bending poems of e.e. cummings, "the rain is a handsome animal"  (New Amsterdam Records) is Tin Hat's first album of new material in five years, and Kihlstedt's dramatic, profoundly expressive voice often grabs you by the throat.
The album is Tin Hat's latest literary endeavor, following 2007's The Sad Machinery of Spring, a project inspired by the hallucinatory writing of the doomed Polish Jewish artist Bruno Schulz.
"the rain is a handsome animal" features Tin Hat's new lineup, with Kihlstedt and fellow founder, guitarist Mark Orton, Berkeley clarinetist Ben Goldberg and the most recent addition, San Francisco pianist and accordionist Rob Reich. All four musicians contribute compositions, responding with humor, empathy and slippery lyricism to cummings' tricky, idiosyncratic use of language. In Goldberg's hands, the brief poem "2 little whos" feels like a romantic denouement from a Broadway musical that got lost on 52nd Street.
While Kihlstedt's vocals dominate the album, her violin work is as arresting as ever. But then, as a group, Tin Hat's musicianship is masterly throughout. Each piece is full of subtle and telling details, like the ominous rumble of Goldberg's contra alto clarinet on "unchanging," an arrangement that shadows cummings' unorthodox placement of the text on the page.
Tin Hat captures the seismic emotional swings of cummings' verse, delving both into his dark moods and his giddy flights, like "yes is a pleasant country," the album's closest brush with preciousness.
A beautifully constructed album that reveals more with each spin, "the rain" contains art songs and folk ballads, tango flourishes and jazzy grooves. And much like cummings' mercurial verse, it offers a surprise around every corner. (Fortaken: http://www.californiareport.org)

“Modern melancholy, modern jubilation, modern swagger and modern volatility – for the last few years Tin Hat has reminded us that things aren’t exactly as they used to be.  Tin Hat makes it up as it goes, and dodges the commonplace like the plague.  Call them wordless torch songs for the new millennium, and hold out your hand.  They’ll introduce you to an emotion or two you’ve yet to experience.” ~ Downbeat
“It’s an all-encompassing American tableau with melodies both strange and beautiful.” ~Associated Press
“…integrates all manner of music, tango to rural Americana to European chamber–by now a too-familiar move. But what makes them so appealing is the way they find deeper connections in all the sounds, rather than opting for the usual post-mod avoidance of meaning; their eclecticism draws you in instead of pushing you away.” ~ Seattle Weekly
“Their haunting and strangely familiar music…is a soundtrack for the kind of puzzling dream which leaves you sitting awake in the middle of the night…” ~ The New Yorker
“Dreamily eclectic, the music is a deft soup of American folk melodies with middle-European hamishness, the high modernism of Stravinsky and Schoenberg with the brash, wise-guy jazz of Looney Tunes composer Carl Stalling and Raymond Scott. Familiar sounds bubble up and tickle the ear, then transmute into something witty, rich and strange.” ~ Variety
“… strikes a perfect balance between antiquated and avant-garde. It defies classification on literally every level, sounding at once like the lost music of the late 1800s and like the pending music of the next millennium. It is erudite and timeless, inviting and elusive, unsettling and comforting, challenging and familiar.” ~ Jambands .com
“The Sad Machinery of Spring [is] their deepest, most beguiling work… amazingly accomplished and beautifully recorded… from a group of preternaturally talented musicians. Record of the year material, and it’s only January…” ~ BBC
“Tin Hat Trio seem to exist on a plane far removed from the rest of modern music. Heedless of genre, era, and trend, the Trio have patiently spun their creaking, cinematic yarns… a sepia-toned, still-life dream that whispers with secretive, mournful passion.” ~ Pitchfork Media
“…the evocative pleasures of a music that seems as if it lives – and has forever – down deep in the marrow of our bones, coaxed out in its haunting and ethereal glory via accordion, piano, pump organ, marxophone, harmonica, violin, viola, guitar, dobro, and banjo, by these inspired musicians… Listen to this CD three times through; in your sleep you’ll have dreams strange and old and wondrous … an odd, affecting, wonderful musical night.” ~ The American Reporter
“(They) have created something warm, welcoming and entirely unique through their melding of the avant-garde with something much more familiar…” ~ Rolling Stone
“…crackles with the improvisational savvy of jazz, but it is unclassifiable – like notes from some dusty heartland attic, restored and polished to a high sheen…a marvel of intimate chemistry and resourceful orchestration.” ~ The Philadelphia Inquirer
“…this remarkable quintet of multi-instrumentalists create a series of measured vignettes that brilliantly mix the familiar with the bizarre. Founder members Carla Kihlstedt – fulsomely melodic on violin – and ultra-sharp rhythm guitarist Mark Orton are here augmented by harp and an instrumental assortment that includes wheezy harmoniums, querulous trumpets and plaintive clarinets. Unhurried tempos add to an underlying feeling of uncertainty, creating a genuinely surrealist musical soundscape.” ~ Financial Times, London
“Forget the definitions, and simply think of the music of the Tin Hat Trio as compelling entertainment, rich with whimsy, imagination and intelligence.” ~ The Los Angeles Times

record label
New Amsterdam Records
98A Van Dyke St.
Brooklyn, NY 11231

Hans Wendl Produktion
telephone: 510.848.3864
facsimile: 510.848.3972
web site: www.hanswendl.com

for European booking:
Saudades Tourneen
Karin Kreisl
telephone: +43 5244 61151
facsimile: +43 5244 61155
web site: http://www.erjn.it/saudades/

record label (Foreign Legion)
BAG Production Records
telephone: 510.282.2459


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