By: Alex Bond
Last year’s title for EP-that-made-most-LPs-look-like-a-wasted-extra-30-minutes-of-music easily belonged to TNGHT, the Yeezus-approved DJ/producer duo of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice. Pulse-pounding beats that made your heart sink into your stomach (in a good way) defined five distinct and diverse tracks with song names as easy to remember as the beats (the hardest being getting the number of O’s in “Goooo” correct). Now, 2013 has been far too mercurial, varied, and flat out good, to have any EPs sneak in on any end-of-year lists. Last year certainly had its own strong crop of albums, but TNGHT was a rare exception that found itself heralded alongside works eight times the length (remember Swans’ The Seer?).
EPs serve more as a stately reminder than a statement on their own: they say for a band, “We’re working on things, so stay with us… but here’s a little sumtin’-sumtin’ while you wait.” That’s how Amason’s EP works, and there’s no reason to shortchange them for it. Don’t get anything crossed – the only similarities between Amason and TNGHT are that they both make music and they’ve both released an EP at some point. They also may both enjoy Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin’s cult classic “Je t’aime… moi non plus” (I have no factual basis to go on for either band, but work with me here). The difference here is that while TNGHT may sample more memorable bits for a club banger with a hint of irony, Amason looks at the song as inspiration, irony be damned. Amason is a five-piece group of Swedish-born musicians, including Pontus Winnberg of Miike Snow. Signifiers like “twee pop” and “adult contemporary” come to mind for the sounds that come out of the group’s collective instruments, and it’s safe to imagine Belle and Sebastian or a more subdued Sufjan. These five tracks sound vintage but feel present-day: recorders abound and pianos chime freely, but Amanda Hollingby Matsson’s voice rings clear as a bell.
Opening track “Älgen” provides all the energy the following four tracks need to lock your attention for 17 minutes, which isn’t much time by any standard. It all makes for a subtle, simple sound that also recalls the folk sensibilities of Carole King’s “Tapestry,” where unbridled energy is contained and bubbles to the surface for the a perfect accent on tracks like “Chicago” and “Margins”. If you don’t hear the soul of Gainsbourg and Birkin by the time “Parachutes” queues up, check your head. You’re also free to let TNGHT rattle it for you again before tackling this year’s potential EP of choice.
Alex Bond is a sophomore studying journalism and art history. He’s originally from Northbrook, Ill., and he’s working to remember not to tell people he’s “from Chicago.” Pastimes include simultaneously listening to music and inhaling wasabi peas, chastising others on eating single stuf Oreos, and effusing an air of sophistication that is both misleading and, frankly, off-putting. He’s working on that too.