by brian kagel (kegs1287) - Oct 01, 2007
Origami Ghosts - Solving My Own Puzzles
The first thing that came to mind when I put in Seattle's Origami Ghosts' debut album Solving My Own Puzzles... was how much of a debt they owe to another Seattle band, older and now disbanded: Carissa's Wierd [sic]. But don't just go and label Origami Ghosts as another chronically depressed Pacific Northwestern band, although they are quite melancholy. The lyrics of band leader John Paul Scesniak are more subtle and restrained than bleeding heart on the sleeve and angry. Scesniak uses the tension found within oneself when you are confused and lonely even if you're not alone. In the standout tracks "Clouds Look Down," "When the Sidewalk Ends," and "Pendulum," you and he know things will change for the better, just not when. His voice helps set the mood, never rising beyond the occasional crack and extremely reminiscent of Pall Jenkins but singing in his bedroom instead of a nightclub lounge.
Sometimes, though, Scesniak is especially unclear in what he is trying to get across, and the words can just get dismissed as something depressing, but when that does happen it doesn't necessarily take much away from the song because the music is pretty strong. The guitar work is usually handled by one or two acoustic guitars plucking out lines and occasionally tuning it up to a strum. Think Rob Crow's acoustic songs and "Third Planet" Modest Mouse along with well placed cello parts and a hammered dulcimer plinking throughout accompanying the guitar work. The pace of all the songs is kept pretty steady as well, never nearing the crawl Carissa's Wierd and The Black Heart Procession would sometimes go for.
The brevity of the album is a major plus. With all the songs around the three-minute mark, the listener can get through the whole album in one sitting and take the music in at one time. Plus, no one likes to be overloaded with glumness, and Solving My Own Puzzles... has just the right amount. I have to say, though, that the album will not immediately grab people as music needs to immediately to gain a new fan base. It will probably take a new listener some alone time with the album to concentrate on picking out what makes each song its own because without that kind of time to let things sink in, I'm afraid to say it might just all blend together into some shade of blue.
With Carissa's Wierd broken up and turning into the reverb-laden Crazy Horse-inspired Band of Horses, and The Black Heart Procession releasing one of the best reviewed but also most criminally ignored album of their career, Origami Ghosts could be the freshest group out there in their self-described "moody and spacious anti-folk/pop/punk/hop" genre.