On Fillmore

Extended Vacation

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When experimental Chicago-based duo On Fillmore came up with the title Extended Vacation they must have been imagining a getaway in the rain forest. For their fourth album (their third widely released one), bassist Darin Gray and drummer Glenn Kotche create a somber soundtrack by piecing together kitchen-sink hand percussion, jazzy walking basslines, and laid-back xylophone and vibraphone chimes -- all embellished with rustling brushes and animal squawks and chirps. These visceral jungle sounds that dominate the record sound authentic, as if they were captured on location in Africa, but in reality, they come straight from the throat of band pal DeDe Sampaio, who imitated bird chirps from the inside of a grain silo. It's an offbeat recording technique, indeed -- almost as weird as the album's concept -- but it all works surprisingly well. The experience is slow moving and slightly creepy in a provocative kind of way; accurately invoking what it might be like to listen to the Twin Peaks soundtrack while locked in a zoo cage. Chances are, Extended Vacation won't rope in fans of Gray's and Kotche's respective bands Wilco and Gastr del Sol, since it's a far cry from alt-country or math rock, but those looking for something that's avant-garde but fairly easy to digest might find this minimalist mood piece strangely soothing.

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