The mark of minimalist composers Erik Satie, Steve Reich and Terry Riley have all been left on Havergal and can be traced throughout Havergal's second album Elettricita. The strength of the single note (versus the fat meaty chord) is something that Havergal has always embraced. And with unlimited tracking, the cactus needled single notes of Lungs for the Race have blossomed a bit on Elettricita, retaining that fragile sound while finding strength in numbers — an army of individual notes so deep in number that the land they tra-verse becomes unrecognizable in their wake. The music meanders as the hypnotic rhythms build upon one another and change into slow beach breaks. In the studio, Havergal does not set out to record an event that occurs in a moment in time, but rather to create a sound collage that can only be created in his home studio. Havergal's commitment to make a modern music that is beyond his personal abilities — relying on technology to multi-track very simple parts forty times over. Yet the music still retains a very humanistic quality, conveying moods of the most complicated sort. Yes, this highly processed music has a subtle pastoral quality to it that allows it to transcend the glitch pop soup of the day. Movietone, Califone, early Tangerine Dream and Eno's Another Green World are interesting touchstones for one looking for kindred spirits. And thank goodness for the healthy portions of piano served up on this new record. With the sublime guitar and piano interplay on songs such as album opener "Drowned Men", "The Fallen Hopeless Hope" and "Burn Up the Bay", the bliss-out potential for the lis-tener remains quite high. The tunes are timeless, immersed in an ancient static while pulsing with a futuristic beat. And through it all is the voice of a cowboy of the most contemporary sort.
Havergal: Lungs for the Race
After a handful of highly praised singles, compilation appearances and a brilliant instrumental EP, Havergal comes forth with its debut full-length. An opus three years in the making, LUNGS FOR THE RACE is a true loner of a record, a desolate and static-y transmission from somewhere between our distant past and our distant future. Fusing the skewed pop sensibility of Modest Mouse, and the lo-fi electronics of Piano Magic and Arab Strap, Havergal seems propped on the crest of something new and exciting. With the four-track revolution of the 80's and 90's shimmering in the cultural rearview mirror, Havergal waves in a new era of bedroom songwriters. Yes, we are now in a digital world of zipdisc 8-tracks, 16-bit samplers and drum machines. But all is not lost and forgotten. On LUNGS FOR THE RACE the new textures and technology melds with the old standby's of thin guitars, pawn shop rhodes and the same modern daily challenges that have been on the backs of people living in the Now since the Stone Age. It's actually a comfort to know that in the everchanging tides of time, there's still so much to be uncertain about. From the heart of Texas, Havergal has appeared in our midst like a modern treatise on the state of the ageless America, negotiating the gulf between tradition and progress like a young gosling shuffling about with the grace of the great tumbleweed diaspora. The album tackles themes heavily weighed down by the American condition (disillusionment and waning dignity in a bored and monotonous landscape, unfulfilled and unrequited love in a sprawling and mostly-empty emotional basin, among other dreadful thematic afflictions). Yet we still hesitate to describe this record as a distinctly American work. Moreso, LUNGS FOR THE RACE feels like an American album made through a European lens -- a 46-minute Wenders-like portraiture. It is indeed a minimalist pop masterwork, The Last Picture Show with a drum machine beat and a cleanly-toned guitar along with the most probing of intentions. Havergal principal Ryan Murphy is not one to let the day pass slowly. Aside from all the tune-smithing, he runs the Texas-based Western Vinyl label (which released Havergal's first two singles), and spends his days as an architect.