Album Review: Strange Durations/Edmondson
by Tyler Francischine
Thoughts race through your mind, but the words just won’t come to your lips. Who can you give just a glance to and communicate volumes?
The early evening sun sets the living room ablaze. Your gaze drifts back and forth from your book to the golden light streaming through the windows. Who can you share a comfortable, hour-long silence with?
You wake from a dream in which you’ve written the most nose-wrinkling, upper lip-curling bass line known to man. Who’s going to help you make this dream a reality?
Your bro, dude.
There’s nothing like a blood tie to remove all barriers between two beings. Communication flows, cooperation comes easy.
Florida’s Robert and Jack Edmondson have harnessed the powers of brotherly collaboration to create “Strange Durations,” to be released tomorrow (May 8) in digital and vinyl formats from Gainesville label Elestial Sound. The album is a collection of songs that breathe, tracks that engage the mind without overwhelming the senses. Think Miles Davis’ “In A Silent Way,” but replace the trumpet with introspective lyrics about family strife, both the mundane and the spiritual.
Edmondson recorded the album over two consecutive summers in California. Robert recalls the days spent playing piano, reading, visiting the seaside and watching Miles’ 1970 performance at Isle of Wight to feel all electric and motivated.
“Being together, having our ears in the same room, is what made these songs,” Robert says.
On standout “Meanwhile,” the melody starts with Jack singing like he’s twirling around under the sea, and it finishes with a horn line almost Vaudevillian. (I can just see Harpo’s eyebrows a’wagglin’ now.) It’s no accident.
Like a series of summer storms that come on suddenly, capture your attention and pass over in due time, the songs on “Strange Durations” swell and fade in a series of moods. Songs end slowly, and the birds begin singing again, quietly. You exhale before the next one builds.
Back home in Hollywood, Florida, musician, music arranger and transcriber Tod Edmondson collaborated with his sons on horn and percussion arrangements. He also helped them conceptualize new sonic possibilities.
“He would say, ‘Just play that differently,’” Jack remembers. “He helped me think of things in ways I couldn’t before.”
For Jack, who wrote most of the lyrics on Strange Durations, inspiration can come on suddenly. The track “Mobius Strip” began as a string of words Jack couldn’t get out of his head. “And the dishes still need to be done.” An obsessive thought gave birth to melody and rhythm, and Jack wrote the song in an hour.
Robert, who lives in California while Jack calls Gainesville home, characterizes his relationship with his brother as one of mutual support and inspiration. The pair trade general insight and musical discoveries often.
“Being brothers means we have two individual but complementary sets of life experiences. Music is the way we bring those experiences together,” he says. “A sibling is the closest there can be to simply being you.”
Long-time friend and collaborator Nick Mendez will join Edmondson on bass for a tour of the southeast this month. He says Robert and Jack’s bond leaves an indelible mark on the sounds they produce together.
“When they collaborate, it feels more like a conversation than a composition. This melody sounds like catching up with one another, that modulation sounds like a shared trauma, those harmonies sound like that one time they gorged themselves with ice cream and so on,” he says. “Their music is a result of being born under the same roof, going out into the world, finding themselves individually, and ultimately reacquainting with each other — only to find that they had a piece of one another all along, and always will.”
Robert found the creation of this album to be a transformative experience, serving as an outlet to express his hopes, joys and fears for his family and the future. Strange Durations invites listeners to explore their own feelings on the topic.
“I hope at least one person who hears this feels the feeling that made me a musician, that feeling when you hear something for the first time and your hair stands on end, your scalp is tingling, and you feel spaces in your head opening up that weren’t open before,” he says.
Edmondson 2017 tour dates:
May 11 – Tir na nog Irish Pub, Daytona Beach
May 12 – Will’s Pub, Orlando
May 13 – WVFS-FM and Waterworks, Tallahassee
May 14 – Fresh Produce Records, Macon
May 15 – Atlanta
May 16 – The World Famous, Athens
May 17- house show, Asheville
May 18 – house show, Savannah
*~*May 20 – Heartwood Soundstage, Gainesville*~*
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