ounding like a deranged jug band from hell, Hangedup has made a giant leap with their second album into both a more accessible and eminently more enjoyable work. The group consists of Genevieve Heisteck and Eric Craven on viola and drums, respectively. The sounds that emerge from these two instruments, however, are both varied and interesting- never allowing the confines of percussion and strings to get in the way of the music. Instead, Heisteck explores different ways of playing the viola’s strings, while Craven plays all sorts of percussive instruments to add different hues of music to the mix.
They aren’t really different colors, though, as the instrumentation does not allow for a huge stylistic change throughout the album. This isn’t the point of Hangedup, however. Instead of attempting to instill a wide variety of themes and feelings in the listener, the group mines the territory of modern dread that many of the Constellation acts that have come before them have perfected.
Far from coming off as a boring retread, however, the group uses the minimalist set instrumental set up to their advantage. Hard driving beats frequently mix with weeping viola melodies to ply at the heartstrings.
On “no more bad future”, the group hit its highest epic point. The song starts extremely slow and full of tension as Heisteck wrings agonizing drones out of the strings on her viola. These drones, mixed with what sounds like random industrial sounds, gently give way to a insistent and repetitive bass drum that pounds away unaware of its surroundings. All of the sudden the drum is hit and the tribal rhythm begins in earnest. Soon after the viola begins to play a simplistic line, both building up speed as they go. The two eventually merge into one driving force, with a bass line underneath provided by Harris Newman’s help. As the song marches on unabated it becomes clear that the percussion will be leading the way. Soon after, however, almost all sounds cut out, save a new melody played by bells. Just as abruptly that instrument cuts out and the viola and drums race off to the end of the song, counter pointing one another beautifully.
It’s a rare thing to see two musicians that are completely in tune with one another. This is exactly the case, however, on Hangedup’s sophomore record. While the post apocalyptic rock of Constellation’s line up may not be the antidote for those sick of mainstream rock and roll, Hangedup may be the group most adept at interplaying off one another and for that, at the very least, this release deserves to be heard by more than just the normal crowd that buys these releases.