Half Hours with the Lower Creatures

Rachel Taylor Brown

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Half Hours with the Lower Creatures Review

by Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr.

After looking at the cover of Rachel Taylor Brown's enigmatically titled Half Hours with the Lower Creatures, a headless body with a face drawn on its chest, one is not quite sure what to expect musically. And perhaps this is exactly why Brown chose the cover art she chose: the opening "Hemocult/I Care About You" is as enigmatically strange in a musical sense as the cover art is in a pictorial one. Technically, "Hemocult/I Care About You" lacks all of the normal things one expects from a song -- like vocals, lyrics, and a melody. Instead, one has something akin to the strange interludes placed between songs on Pink Floyd's The Wall, with telephones ringing, bells sounding, ghostly vocalizing, and other odds and sods that unfold for seven minutes. The experiment is followed by "You're Alright Sorla One" which, in comparison, sounds very much like a song, albeit an odd one that only lasts for a little over a minute. The third cut, "Stagg Field," manages to split the difference between bombastic and melodic pop, verging from simple instrumentation to a kitchen-sink arrangement. One might argue that Half Hours with the Lower Creatures is the kind of album one endures rather than enjoys -- however, Brown realizes that there are plenty of normal albums for normal people already crowding the bins at the local record store. To borrow from Monty Python, Half Hours with the Lower Creatures is "something completely different," odd but intriguing, challenging but never boring, just as its cover suggests.

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