No one can slight Ral Partha Vogelbacher for a lack of ambition. Their third release (notable for the collaborative involvement of friends Thee More Shallows) is a confident melange of styles not always comfortably compatible – Shrill Falcons relays to the listener the spectacular occurrence of a three-way collision of electronic pop smashed head-on dissonant drones and straight ahead rock which owes itself to the band’s lo-fi beginnings – and accolade is deserved for such an audacious undertaking. This isn’t to say, however, that the tracks are pretentious or lofty; it’s a very casual attempt for the most part, easily accessible in its sound while still engrossing in its procedure and content.
Though most songs dawdle in either understated pop bliss – “Garden Assault” and “New Happy Fawn” shine in this department – or lo-fi turned hi-fi rock which borrows heavily from Slanted-era Pavement, the true stand out is the reckless-yet-conscious, atypical “Aeroflot” (and, to a degree, the less-developed “Lonely Dreadnought”), a five minute long piece which substitutes the tenderness of frontman Chadwick Bidwell’s vocals for wily, brazen feedback which is constrained only by a beat which saunters along like the impelling percussion in the most private parade on the planet. Compared to other other tracks, which seem to grow out into the physical realm via social interaction, “Aeroflot” is an exercise in introspection, existing not in the world but in one’s mind.
The same way that “Aeroflot” keeps the other pieces in check by acting as a superbly dissonant foil, the lyrics on Shrill Falcons betray the oft-mechanical nature of the backing instrumentation. The human quirkiness and emotion to be found in Bidwell’s styling maintains an essential balance and keeps the album interesting.
Though at times underdeveloped, Shrill Falcons is nonetheless an enduring testament to the inventiveness and flexibility of the underground.