Clue to Kalo
One Way, It’s Every Way
The Leaf Label
rum roll please! Ladies and Gentlemen, for his next trick the reviewer will attempt to review an LP which falls within the category of "Pastoral Glitch," "Folktronica," "Lo-Fi," "BoCesque," "Morr Music," and "Future Folk" without using the following phrases: "songs wrapped in electronics," "digital reverie," "scratchy drums," "junkyard rhythms," "off-kilter sounds," "ramshackle," "occasional banjo," "broken melody," or "hazy imagery".
Facing an album that’s referenced as being taken from the folk-rock-electronica camp is starting to become a wholly unenjoyable prospect. Before a finger has even reached for play, there’s a mental blueprint of the sounds already waiting. There’s even a limited idiom that’s somehow evolved to describe this genre which can often look lazy when used, which in turn gives the impression that the work in question is also lazily constructed. Aren’t these sorts of releases just all those usual elements tossed around a little bit? Isn’t this truly a genre whose day has come and gone? On the first pass, there’s a temptation to write the album off as a typical cloudily constructed pop effort, but with One Way, It’s Every Way the beauty’s in the detail. It’s the moments that slip behind, but actually end up creating, the structure that make this something you can settle into as opposed to something that skids past into mediocrity.
There isn’t much palindromic in the opener and closer beyond their titles (“The Younger the Old” and “The Older the Young”), yet the album’s songs share an analogous feel despite their many vicissitudes; these songs belong together without being derivative of one another. A brief aperture into the album of plucked loops, slippery electric sounds with Mark Mitchell’s whispery vocals leads to the early highlight "Seconds When It’s Minutes." There are little backwards touches between the pealing guitars and curling horn sounds with smartly modest drum patterns going sideways across the song. These waltz in the song’s sidelines, smoothly riding alongside the vocal lines as they in turn glide past one another. Amazingly it still retains the structure of a pop song while ending rhythmically in steam train sounds, car horns, and the Marvellous Mechanical Mouse Organ flowing off into “Come to Mean a Natural Law”; we’re talking the kind of mini-movements and myriad layers you’d get from a well-adjusted, understated Brian Wilson. Laid back in a comfy listening seat (or seated in a train, at your desk in your McShitty job), the seams between songs unravel as the album opens itself up to you, as opposed to you working your way into it through its layers.
That song segue ends four minutes later, taking the listener into a bizarre tribute to the Who (can anyone else hear this or the nod to Spiritualized in the opening of “Your Palsy to Protect You”?). Putting up the shutters and sending us on our way at the album’s finish is the aforementioned “The Older the Young” which shows tomorrow as a brighter, clearer place paved with staggering piano, elegant sounding horns, and strings leaving an air of bottled sunshine for a subtle finale. The only gripe anyone could reasonably state about One Way, It’s Every Way (apart from possibly being too full to the brim with sounds to digest it) is that “The Tense Changes” seems to have been carved from the same gemstone as “Ignore the Forest Floor." Or maybe at a push you could say that “The Just is Enough” begs a little too strongly for a storming live rethink.
There’s something really obvious that might pass you by about the album until it really sinks in—the glorious kaleidoscopic sunburst cover. It may not be constructed with tiny details like the music, but it’s a warm, bright, open thing, very much like the LP, that wonderfully rounds off this extraordinarily unassuming, gorgeous release.
Reviewed by: Scott McKeating
Reviewed on: 2005-08-31