The Impossible Shapes have been merrily musickmaking — mostly under the radar — for a decade now. With this release the band has recorded songs which were flushed out over many live performances over many tours all across the globe. This album is their pinnacle song mound that could have been issued by Zapple, if times had been different. At the root these four long-hairs are a pop band — kinda like how Byrds became a meta group — who've been strained through British folk as well as the whole post/beat/mystic literate gob. Songwriter Chris Barth translates a cosmological view as psychedelic nursery rhymes or rock n roll cracked into free form strata.
Whilst 2005's critically pumped Horus initiated escalation into a milkwood tapestry of a man vs. earth vs. spirit conceptual acorn, Tum, the 300 edition LP issued just months before is their most thoroughly realized confirmation of man as freedom as seed. Principal songwriters Chris Barth & Aaron Deer nefariously split that nut into mighty gush, fattening this garage cum psyche-chamber session enough to peel back grooves from the cornerstones of Shirley Collins' Folkways side False True Lovers to Bobb Trimble's Harvest of Dreams. Now reissued on unlimited CD, Tum is deliciously reborn for all. Formed in 1998 the Shapes -- Barth (guitar, vocalist), Deer (organ, bass) Jason Groth (guitar) and Mark Rice (drums) -- have kept a profoundly articulate sense of classic song/dream structure whether they are billowing in drenched multi-tacked gauze like Indianapolis forefathers Zerfas or snarled in amp-buzz annihilation of power-quartet stage performances. Easily the rawest tapes of the Shapes canon, Tum is a potent album, self-produced and directed to articulate a peak without contemporary parallels that easily rides against the sloshed chunks of bland neo-folk/whatevers that adds to the rising murk. As backup in the battle, original member Peter King, Amy Karr (The Mean-Agers) and Stefan Gabriel contribute throughout. These 17 songs/moments act like spell casting vessels...as hot-mouthed barefoot children with gloved fists pounding out the body-shuddering call of all to return, neck-deep, to the earth-cult. Time to carve some bark into a ticket and get in line. The wide umbrella of activity outside The Impossible Shapes stretches to each member's participation and full-on rolls in The Coke Dares (Essay Records), John Wilkes Booze (Kill Rock Stars), Barth's solo persona Normanoak (Secretly Canadian) and Deer's solo side Horns of Happiness (Secretly Canadian).
The Impossible Shapes is a quartet from the southern reaches of Indiana featuring bass/keys-man Aaron Deer, guitarist/bassist Jason Groth, drummer Mark Rice, and songwriter/singer/guitarist/polemicist Chris Barth. Horus is the group's fifth proper full-length album since 2000 and the one that takes the clues and abstractions of all previous and encapsulates them as a monumental and subversive vessel. At point-A we have a classic album from a post-Aquarian world that would be on the electric side of Bert Jansch's Pentangle or Fotheringay. Then from point-B Barth takes a lyrical journey that saunters against the slim lines of magickal romance, demon chasing, Pan, and vile humanistic impulses that reads of equal parts Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Aleister Crowley. His litanies on discovery and shadowy desires of hedonism and courtly love line each song with a tint of naturalistic folk force and free will. A swell of grandeur appears across this song cycle, morphing out of the delicate hill-side inflected guitar melodies into miniature cathedral celebrations. An association of fellow travelers exists within the songs evoking the ancestral pull of early Pink Floyd and a non-acoustic Incredible String Band changing milk-into-gold with their dark brethren Comus. The wide umbrella of activity outside the Impossible Shapes stretches to each member’s participation and full-on rolls in Songs: Ohia/Magnolia Electric Co, The Coke Dares, John Wilkes Booze, Barth's solo persona NormanOak and Deer's solo side Horns of Happiness, though no thinning of blood is found within Horus. The magical spells cast song-by-song grow with each moment that they are set free with every listen.
Having been together since their teenage years, the Impossible Shapes recorded their first hundred or so songs to four-track cassette, naturally coming into their own voice as a band and developing a hunger for a more conventional recording studio environment. For We Like It Wild, their fourth proper full-lengh, the band ventured to the wooded Indiana hills of Monroe County. Surrounded on three sides by a few thousand acres of Indiana State Forest lies Farm Fresh Studio. With Chris Barth as primary songwriter, the Shapes' fascination with "the other side" of the hum-drum routine of modern life comes to the fore. And Farm Fresh is the perfect environment for a band who would have been just as well at home on Vashti Bunyan's cart-ride across England's country-side, hoofing it during the day, setting up camp at night, chasing dogs and smoking tea into the dreamscape. During the session, this wayward band frequently lost themselves in the forest before returning to the converted barn for tracking. The end result is this incredible satellite transmission from the other side as only the Impossible Shapes know it. With alternating lead guitars, the band recalls the urban paranoia of Television and the forlorn southern gothic of Derek & the Dominoes with Barth's fey Donovan-esque voice sounding as though it's coming from across the Atlantic. All the while they maintain the urgent bounce of early R.E.M. As any Hoosier who's seen them live would attest, the Impossible Shapes are at the top of the heap of Indiana's new wave. Reared on healthy doses of the melancholy art pop of Indianapolis' Marmoset and United States Three, and - having grown up only a few short hours from Dayton, Ohio - Guided By Voices, the Breeders and Swearing at Motorists. A true ensemble band with revolving instrumental duties, the band features Barth, Aaron Deer, Jason Groth and Mark Rice and have honed themselves into quite the rhythm section over the years, pulling duty in such bands as John Wilkes Booze and Songs: Ohia, among others. The vinyl for We Like It Wild is being released by Atlanta-based label The Great Vitamin Mystery.