American Watercolor Movement's
"Because of What You Wear"

By Coplan/Fulcrum

It's not often that I review a non-scener's music for my column. I've done it only once before in my 6 years of writing. But this time, I felt that I had to bring this band and this song to the attention of the demoscene for two reasons: 1) it does not follow traditional rules of music. I'll explain that later. 2) It is very inspiring.

I stumbled upon American Watercolor Movement in Jersey City, New Jersey (USA). They were playing in a bar up there, and they had a really nice show. In a collaborative effort with a performing art group known as Fease, they put on a really good show. Imagine listening to this song while viewing very choppy, real-time edited movie clips on the back wall. You saw images of clouds getting dark, houses floating away, hammers smashing vases, a man teaching another man martial arts, and so on. It was a really bizarre and interesting feeling. But the music is just as effective without the visual aspect of the show.

I stated that the song is not traditional. This is what any person would consider an Experimental style. This is best explained by describing the band. The band is 6 people deep. The keyboard player adds all the atmospheric (almost ambient) feel to any song. The bass guitarist does everything from traditional playing to pounding on his guitar with a pipe -- and he also plays keyboard for some songs. The lead singer can change the texture of his voice for whatever song he's doing -- and he's got a lot of energy as I watched him jog in place and dance for almost 2 hours. The lead guitar, somewhat of a misleading name, adds all the bizarre riffs that melt into any song. The drummer is the guy that adds in all the wierd samples that he has syncronized ahead of time on his laptop. Now here's the kicker: The 6th member was just added recently to the band -- she plays violin and cello, unfortunately something you can not hear from the songs available online.

With all that in mind, picture a song that is a cross between some of the more experimental groups in the world (Wilco, Radiohead, U2, Recoil), and performance art. This particular song features the lead singer doing his lyrics as spoken word. The way he sings the lyrics add a whole creepy edge to the song. At some points, he's whispering. At other points, he sounds like an evangelist preaching to his congregation. All the while, the keyboard and bass guitar are putting forth a lulling sound. The lead guitarist evolves throughout the song. At the beginning, he has a very repetitive and subtle 3 note riff that repeats. But then he throws in his overdrive and wah pedals to get a very industrial sound. The percussion is a cross between some very typical dance beats (from the laptop) and the live drum set that adds a very well coreographed sound. The part you can't hear in the version available from their site is that the violin adds quite a bit of tension to certain parts of the song as she has a cloth wedged in the strings to muffle and distort the sound of the instrument.

So what makes this song so inspiring? Unlike 60% of the music available today in both the real world and the demoscene, this is a true art form. I'm not saying that music isn't art. But this is a song that is painted across the audio spectrum. The song evolves. There's no defined chorus. The song almost has no hard definition at all. It moves like liquid fromt he start to the end, almost like an ocean. The tide comes in on some occasions, and it receeds on others. But the song is constantly evolving: Getting stronger, growing, changing. And if that isn't enough, the lyrics are very powerful.

You need to go on the site and download their music. If you like it, you should buy the CD. Trust me, it's well worth the investment. I guarantee that the music of The American Watercolor Movement will inspire you. And it looks as though they will become more inspiring down the line. It's a tight band, tight music, solid show and the energy and patience to make it all work. I would feel guilty if I didn't let you, my readers, know about this band.

  Song Information:
     Title:  Because of What You Wear
     Author:  The American Watercolor Movement
     Release date:  Unreleased
     File Size:  3.8 MB