February 27, 2004

Early Day Miners "The Sonograph EP"

They say brevity is the soul of wit, and that's certainly true about Early Day Miners' The Sonograph EP. Over the course of an album, music as slow and delicate and dark and pretty can get a bit monotonous, but in small doses, it's really powerful and moving. This little EP, released by Spanish label Acuarela (who seems to have the market cornered on excellent EP releases as of late) is perhaps the best thing that Early Day Miners have released. Sure, their albums Let Us Garlands Bring and Jefferson at Rest were beautiful slice of sadness, but honed down to twenty minutes, Early Day Miners waste no time in filling the songs with as much beauty as possible.

Instead of the grand epics of the past, they've kept the songs brief--and, for these guys, anything under five minutes is 'brief'--and have regulated the grand, epic instrumental passages to individual songs. This might seem a bit choppy on the surface, but this shows a rare level of restraint, and it's forced them to be much more focused on the finished product. But, really, you notice it all that much--The Sonograph EP flows so seemlessly that unless you're paying attention, you won't notice songs changing. If you can stay...well...sober and alert through the record, then you've got some really strong constitution.

With a mix of piano and harmonica, "Albatross" quickly sets The Sonograph EP in the warm, dusty Southwest--or your bedroom, circa 4 AM yesterday morning.. As it drifts into the folky "Perish Room," the vibe gets even mellower, and the very drowsy singing that starts off the song drifts into a blurry, stoned out instrumental haze, which carries over into the instrumental "Bijou." When Daniel Burton breaks the instrumental flow on "Bedroom, Houston," if you're misty-eyed, you might just miss his vocals. When the chirping crickets and faint sounds of the night air come in during "Mosaic II," if you're still awake, you'll certainly be propelled into a dreamlike state. The final song, "Misrach," breaks the silence and the sleep like a thunderstorm at dawn; it's a loud, violent noise that will break you from your slumber, and as quickly as it arrives, it dissipates, and you're lulled back in to sleep by the silence after the storm.

This is an all-too brief affair, yet its terseness is what makes it so wonderful. In six short songs, spread out over twenty-six minutes, Early Day Miners have delivered a record that's as good as most bands full-lengths. The Sonograph EP is well worth seeking out, especially if you need something to make you sleep...

--Joseph Kyle

Label Website: http://www.acuareladiscos.com

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