On The Owl Has Landed a multitude of chunky sounds are thrown into a batter and never get fully incorporated. By the end, you’ll have no idea what the hell you just listened to. It’s Esquela’s personal batch of cookie batter, but since when was cookie batter a bad thing?
The lion’s share of songs are easy enough to swallow. Many have some heartfelt poetry, delivered by Rebecca Frame’s sincere voice, and Chico Finn’s mandolin keeps things moving. The guys take over every so often to get a few smiles, like on “Hands On My Jammies,” before Frame returns to wipe that grin off with “African Civil War.”
On each successive song though, it’s impossible to predict whether the lead guitar will stay focused and dry, or start dancing like no one’s watching, staying just close enough to the rest of the band to still sound like the same song. There were times when I thought The Edge might have been revealing his secrets of his trademark delay-echo to the band, and others where Hendrix seemed to be the tutor.
On a few tracks near the very end, like “Here And Now,” after the rest of the band quits, you’ll be treated to guitars suddenly losing focus, breaking tune, and wandering off, perhaps looking for other genres. The closing number, “Country Fela,” will lose you if you look too closely into sounds that seem to jump off in illogical directions. With its hypnotic background loops of the title, strange wailing and some of that jazzy experimental guitar, you shouldn’t operate heavy machinery while listening.
So don’t take too long trying to mix that batter. Just sit down with a glass of milk and a spoon.
In A Word: Chunky