Punch Brothers - Antifogmatic
What an enjoyable listen! Punch Brothers' 2010 release, Antifogmatic, is a shiny diamond in the rough. Found within a genre one wouldn't typically think to look through as well, bluegrass! The band is a collection of stringed instruments headed by Chris Thile (mandolin/vocals), with Gabe Witcher (fiddle/violin), and Paul Kowert (bass). Bryan Sutton plays guitar as well, where necessary. The most evident thing you'll notice listening to Antifogmatic is the extent of the talent of these gentlemen. It's clear that they've all been classically trained on their respective instruments and in music theory itself.
While this is a bluegrass album at it's root, there are so many songs that spill over into other genres and styles. Never has so much dissonance been used within a bluegrass record, and it's a truly unique approach at making awkward sounds work. Chris Thile's voice is smooth and appropriate for only having string accompaniment. No reverb required! Some songs are played so fast and intricately, it almost reminds me of the soundtrack to a Mario Bros video game. The song "Don't Need To" is basically an underground level of Mario. At times, one may start to question if Punch Brothers may be creating a whole new genre in itself. In the scheme of modern music; one can find tinges of math rock, grind, classical, bluegrass, and so much more. Even the slower songs dance about your ear sweetly. The track "Me and Us" for instance, sounds like a Forgive Durden/As Tall as Lions split, minus the percussion of course.
All in all, this album is a great representation of where the educated minds can take music these days. There truly is no limit to what you can do with twelve notes, if you need proof, just listen to Antifogmatic. Just when you thought that everything had been done already, someone picked up a mandolin to prove you wrong. The only thing that takes away from this album is that is truly is a compilation of complex sounds that may be difficult for the casual listener to enjoy. However, with a bit of patience, this album could be anyone's new favorite obsession.
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