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Let Us Now Listen To The Discographies Of Various Musicians
Mike K

[table of contents]
Pelican: City Of Echoes, Pink Mammoth EP, and Pelican / These Arms Are Snakes Split
City Of Echoes (2007)

A few subtle changes have come into play here: At 42 minutes, this is the shortest Pelican release that’s considered a proper “album”. They’ve also dialed down the Epic Rocking just slightly – The last two full-lengths had three tracks each that went over the ten minute mark, whereas here the longest cut is just over seven minutes. This makes the songs just slightly more accessible, but the songs still go through enough changes to keep the band’s expansive feel intact.

The other difference from their past albums is that there’s more focus on the band as a whole. Even on their quieter tracks, Pelican were always putting much more emphasis on their guitars than anything else. City Of Echoes still uses guitar as a lead instrument, of course, but it’s pushed just the tiniest bit further back in the mix so you can appreciate the rhythm section a bit more. In particular, Bryan Herweg gets some nice melodic bass-playing in on “Spaceship Broken – Parts Needed”, and the highlight of the title track is where he plays a heavily distorted, chunky bass-line that’s juxtaposed with much softer, chiming guitars.

I miss the murky atmosphere of Fire In Our Throats just a little bit, but otherwise I consider this album just as good. Thus far this is the album I’d recommend someone who’s interested in the band but daunted by all the 10 minute songs.

Key Tracks: Spaceship Broken – Parts Needed, Winds With Hands, Lost In The Headlights

Pink Mammoth EP (2007)

The title track is an extended, major key reworking of "Mammoth" from the first EP. This rendition of the song unfortunately loses the slightly middle-eastern feel of the original, but it works in it's own way: Putting the song in a major key, placing more emphasis on melodic guitar leads than stomping riffage, and adding a gentler coda gives it a bit more of an epic, grandiose feel. Though this version of the song was recorded before City Of Echoes came out, it does sort of sound like what "Mammoth" might have sounded like had they written it for that album.

The other track is "End Of Seasons" a Prefuse 73 remix combining elements of "Aurora Borealis" and the untitled track from The Fire In Our Throats. I am personally only familiar with Prefuse 73's One Word Extinguisher, and this mix is sort of in a completely different style from that album: The chopped up samples remain, but there's little in the way of jazzy hip-hop beats - instead, the track is mainly pure hazy ambience. There's not a lot of development for an 8 minute track, but it does manage to become hypnotic. I do appreciate that the two times Pelican have commissioned remixes, they seemed to go with artists who would take the songs in completely different directions.

Key Tracks: Pink Mammoth

Pelican / These Arms Are Snakes Split (2008)

Pelican have done their share of split singles, but this is the only one I'm covering because it actually contains exclusive material. For this split single, Pelican team up with post-hardcore group These Arms Are Snakes on a rendition of "Pink Mammoth", then cover These Arms Are Snakes' "Diggers Of Ditches Everywhere" (here retitled "Gold Diggers").

"Pink Mammoth" starts out so identically to the version done by Pelican alone that I initially thought there was some sort of mix-up. However, while it's largely the same arrangement as the previously released version, there are additional guitar parts and even what seems to be TAAS vocalist Steve Snere punctuating things with the occasional very distant, reverby scream. The differences are subtle, but they're enough to add a subtle element of menace to the song.

"Gold Digger", meanwhile, is notable as the only Pelican recording to ever feature lead vocals. I can't really find credits confirming it, but it definitely sounds to me like Steve Snere joined in on this cover of his own band's song*. Even with vocals, Pelican definitely have bent the song to their style: the main riff is slowed down and played with a wall of distortion, and there's just more of an overall Pelican atmosphere.

Key Tracks: Gold Diggers
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