Talahomi Way

Dusted Magazine

One of pop’s great historicizing claims is the re-evaluation of a pop musician to an artisan creative: the hysterical flash in the pan (cf. T. Rex) becomes, through time, not just a cultural barometer but an exalted artist. It’s always been an intriguing way of dealing with not just the meaning of the pop song, but its socio-cultural impact as well, the way one song brings a world to bear upon it.....................

...........As with the last few High Llamas albums, Talahomi Way is as much about the lyrics as the melodies, and here again O’Hagan draws on flora and fauna, building and architecture, travel and migration, and itinerant artists making their way through the day, to tell an unfussy story of the warmth of the commonplace. (For some reason, this also resonates with ’60s/’70s British folk – I am left thinking of Vashti Bunyan’s pilgrimage to the Isle of Skye, or the Incredible String Band’s retreat to Glen Row.) And like Beet Maize And Corn (2004) and Can Cladders, it features artwork by Jeremy Glogan, painting what looks to be a modernist, utopian beachside venue with curving roof and rails, and open-to-the-world glass walling. Much like the album it houses, it’s free and welcoming, and idiosyncratic without being noisy about its "difference." This strikes me as nicely analogous to The High Llamas’ greatest achievement: their ongoing, articulate and subtle working of avant-gardism into effortlessly essayed pop songs. It’s a body of work that begs deep listening, the better to divine the wild kindness at its core.

John Dale May 2011        Read full review


17 Seconds

Musically, for those who have not heard them, The High Llamas sit somewhere right between Brian Wilson and Stereolab (mainman Sean O’Hagan and ver ‘labs Tim Gane have collaborated, and the latter mixed this), with a bit of sixties jazz scattered lightly over proceedings. This is their ninth album, though their first for four years.

Quite simply, it is an utterly gorgeous album. Beautifully summery, and it’s been getting quite a few plays around these parts over the last few weeks. Twelve tracks in total, it flows from start to finish. The only downsides to the album are that O’Hagan’s voice can be quite far down in the mix at times, to the extent I wasn’t quite sure which tracks were instrumentals at first, and if on too quietly, more so than many other albums, the gorgeous subtleties can be lost.

But on at a decent volume, this album runs gently from opener ‘Berry Adams’ to closer ‘Callin Up, Ringing Down’ and provides a perfect spring and summer soundtrack. Soothing and joyous, this album should be heard.
****

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music OHM

The beguiling title track Talahomi Way appears at the midway point of the album, the lyrics being despatched early, allowing the remainder of the track to unfurl itself in patient, instrumental fashion. To The Abbey sounds just as fresh and crisp, with acoustic guitars, strings and marimbas all courteously interacting, discreetly playing off each other.

The cut-and-paste, mildly glitchy electronics of Angel Connector gives an all too brief hint of a different era High Llamas, specifically recalling 1998's Cold & Bouncy album. Its counterpart Crazy Connector appears towards the end, an example of the short instrumental interludes that The High Llamas do so well. Indeed, several tracks end with the kind of small musical postscripts that the band specialise in. Calling Up, Ringing Down closes the album on an appropriately breezy note.

If a criticism could be levelled at the album it may be that some of the other tracks move along in a relatively quiet, unobtrusive manner, not reaching the heights achieved elsewhere.

It may not be difficult to detect the influences and inspirations that lie behind the sound of The High Llamas but that should not detract from the ambition, zeal or forward-thinking outlook of the music. In Talahomi Way The High Llamas have produced another album far greater than the sum of its component parts. It is unlikely to create any major impact on the current musical landscape but it augments and improves it in its own special little way.

Steven Johnson  April 2011  Read full review