All Tiny Creatures’ debut album, Harbors, includes distinctive riffs and cut-up guitar loops bringing together a cleverly constructed album which hones in on a rather unique sound. The Wisconsin based quartet include Thomas Wincek, Andrew Fitzpatrick, Ben Derickson, and Matthew Skemp and also features collaborations with Justin Vernon from Bon Iver and Andrew’s wife Jennifer, who is also a scientist. Band front man, Thomas Wincek’s musical projects have ranged from A Collection of A Colony of Bees, Volcano Choir and Emotional Joystick; All Tiny Creature’s seems to combine all these musical styles and fuses them into a new dimension and a whole new creative process.
The opening three tracks, which include the collaboration with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, ‘An Iris’, is a fantastic way to introduce some of the different themes which can be heard throughout the rest of the album. ‘Cargo Maps’, which uses a strangely soothing trombone loop, reminds the listener of Beach Boys-esque mischievous eccentricity. It is a fantastic example of All Tiny Creatures’ future thinking sound.
In many ways, the bridge of ‘Valves Or Hatches’ which introduces ‘Glass Bubbles’ brings the whole album to life and is a good bridge to the second half of the album. ‘Glass Bubbles’ features heavily compressed and processed lyrics giving the track an extremely contemporary vibe; an instant favourite on the album.
What follows is a marathon seven minute long progression track. ‘Aviation Class’, complete with dreamy synthesiser loops, must be All Tiny Creatures’ most complete composition on the album and definitely, after a few listens, is the most captivating. The second half of this LP lifts the mood of the album as the use of long riffs becomes more prominent.
‘Triangle Frog’ has an Ulrich Schnauss feel to it with extra white noise and ‘Reservoirs’, a song of energetic synths and airless vocals, drifts smoothly in the background but its punctuated hand-claps is what keeps it all together; a rather intriguing addition.
Being a predominately instrumental group, it might be fair to say that Harbors is slightly restricted without the use of “proper” lyrics, yet that hasn’t stopped bands like Mogwai achieving the levels of greatness they currently reach. I wouldn’t say that this album is for everyone, but with some patience to grow on you, the album continues to delight after several listens.
Released on 28th March 2011 courtesy of Hometapes.