Just-One-Second-Ago Broken Eggshell
lying member Sara Magenheimer said in an interview once, “It’s all about the process.” At the time she was referring to the future of the group, but it’s a quote that also very much describes the band’s debut record, Just-One-Second-Ago Broken Eggshell. Recorded in crowded Brooklyn apartments, wide-open wilderness, and on darkened beaches, the anything-goes group’s only constant is that the process leads the way.
That’s why you get songs like “Pond Life,” which wrap first-time guitar strumming, aqueous synth effects, and drum sticks pounding away on a table into a neat two-minute package. It’s the sort of song that, when taken out of context, reveal the group to be the awkward newbies they are. Self-consciousness abounds on the record: the twenty-five second spoken word “Calvary, Coventry, Critical,” the production flourishes that obscure the solid grooves that they sometimes/somehow fall into, the epic Ben Folds ending to “#1 Chariot.” But this blundering is the endearing glue that makes Flying one of the more interesting ramshackle psych-jazz-carnival bands working today.
Each of their songs is a completely different animal, utilizing the instruments at hand and nothing more. So, sure, you take the “Calvary”’s to get “Minors”—a clap-along Animal Collective wannabe jam. You take the recorder and Magenheimer sung “Twin Sisters” to get the jerry-built “Last Trick.” (They’re at their best when they’re closest to falling apart.) But when all is said and done, you end up liking the “Calvary”’s and the “Twin Sisters”’ just as much.
Part of that is down to the fact that Flying speed through 14 tracks in 38 minutes, quickly dispatching one idea for the next. Don’t like the acoustic and harmonizing on “Forbidden Sands”? It’s replaced in less than three minutes by wheezy and plugged-in “Cave.” Like the Tropicália albums it sometimes takes cues from, there is a spirit of discovery here—of a willful naiveté employed to get somewhere important. That much is apparent from the album’s title, a quote from Buckminster Fuller in which he describes humanity as “just about to step out from amongst the pieces of our just one-second-ago broken eggshell.”
Step out into what, though? Flying and a host of other bands working in New York these days are exploring the answer to that question. By combining a mature approach to child-like impulses and a collective sensibility they’re coming up with messy and delightful results. Where are they taking this spaceship of oddities? Judging from Just-One-Second-Ago Broken Eggshell, I have no idea—but I’ll be interested to find out.