Daily Dose: Ensemble et al, "Au Cheval"

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Daily Dose: Ensemble et al, "Au Cheval"

Daily Dose is your daily source for the song you absolutely, positively need to hear every day. Curated by the Paste Music Team.

The lineup and sound of Brooklyn quartet Ensemble, et al. suggests another contemporary classical group making hay of the work of Reich, Glass, and the like. And for a while that’s just what they did. But the group’s forthcoming album—The Slow Reveal, out on 11/17 via Imaginator Records; puts them in much different territory.

Using drums, percussion, keyboards and vibraphone, and a healthy dose of guidance from producer John McEntire (erstwhile member of Tortoise and The Sea & Cake), they’ve created a bona fide rock album. But one that doesn’t assault your senses with volume and aggression. The LP is a slightly sped up film of a flower opening itself up to the sun, each petal and tendril revealing new melodies and nuance and polyrhythm.

The band was kind enough to share “Au Cheval,” the lead track from The Slow Reveal with us today. Here’s what Ensemble member Charlie Kessenich had to say about the creation and recording of this delightful tune:

This song began as a fingerpicked guitar pattern, which was written while I was in Michigan learning how to build guitars. I had one microphone, a few guitars, a $40 Harmony bass, an interface and a laptop. I didn’t have access to a drum set there so the original demo was created with me playing brushes on a big 24”X24” cardboard moving box. When I brought the track home to the group we refined the arrangement and split the fingerpicked part between marimba and vibes, which we’d done before on tunes in the past. I remember being so happy to actually play a drum set while the group held down the rest of the parts! The working title was “A Joyful Parade Into Oblivion”...which was a bit heavy handed but very literally lays out the structure of the song which starts as the most upbeat (“joyful”) part on the album and then launches into a pulverizing atonal bass sequence with correspondingly abrasive drum fills. The tune ends with a sinister but somehow triumphant finale that is defined by another dark, minor bass sequence. Not exactly “oblivion” but something like it.

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